Bath time brings tears

Bath time brings tears | World Vision Blog

Lauren Fisher with Syrian refugee Ghaziyye and her 4-year-old twin girls. (Photo: ©2013 Ralph Baydoun/World Vision)

Lauren Fisher, World Vision emergency communications officer, writes about meeting Ghaziyye and her twin girls, age 4, who are living as refugees in Lebanon.

What brought this mother to tears wasn't the violence or fear or having lost everything; it was that her girls were always dirty. Read how a simple provision from World Vision has wiped away those tears.


It wasn’t the war, the lack of food, or even her new home — a tent of sheet plastic — that brought the tears. It was the thought of not being able to give her children a bath that made Ghaziyye turn away, quickly wiping her eyes, embarrassed.

“I used to bathe them twice every day,” she said, gently running her hand over the ruffled and dirty hair of her twin girls, age 4. “Everything is different. Everything, everything.”

It’s hard to explain how drastic a change it is. You don’t quite know where to start.

There we were, sitting on a dirty mattress on the floor, an old blanket the only thing between us and the muddy ground, plastic sheeting hanging overhead, huddled around a cell phone. On it were pictures of the children in fancy holiday dresses, their hair bright and shining. In the background was a living room most of us would recognize as looking like our own; their house was several stories with terraces. As we looked at a few more of the photos, one of the other women began to cry as well.

I felt like I should apologize for stepping into such an intensely personal moment — for being witness to them losing the simple dignity of being able to care for their children. Again Ghaziyye tried to smooth her children’s hair and glanced down at their now torn and muddy clothes.

“They are so dirty, there is always sand in their hair,” she said as she wrapped her arms around one of the twins and pressed a kiss to her cheek. There’s love in every movement, every glance. It’s the same look you see from mothers around the world as they look at their child — such intense love, pride, and fear all mixed into one.

For the past four months since fleeing Syria, Ghaziyye had been heating up water in small two-gallon containers, then spending hours carefully washing each of her eight children.

“Back and forth and back and forth,” she told me, describing the frenzy of getting the water, heating it, pouring it out. It usually took her two to three trips per child, until this week.

This week she got a shower, installed by World Vision. It’s not much — just a concrete floor with a drain and a faucet — but it means that she doesn’t have to bathe her children on the muddy ground outside.

“Thanks to World Vision, we’re able to shower properly. We now have hot and cold water,” she said. “The situation is still miserable, but now it is better.”

Walking outside of her tent, for a moment we both stood, watching her little girls play in a thin trough of dirty water. I wondered if she too is seeing a flicker of them like they were in Syria — in their dresses, playing in their green backyard for a bit before heading in for the night to their bath and their own soft beds.

Join us in caring for the children of Syria. Make a one-time donation to help World Vision provide emergency assistance for Syrian refugees. Your donation will help us provide basic hygiene kits and food vouchers for refugee families, as well as clean water and latrines for refugees like Ghaziyye and her girls.

Read a list of frequently asked questions regarding the Syrian refugee crisis and World Vision's response.

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