Thousands of families were forced to leave their homes in the eastern countryside of Homs behind, when the Syrian government, its allies and ISIS ruthlessly attacked the area in late 2015. About 1,000 civilians managed to reach the north of Syria after the tiresome and dangerous journey of 1,100 kilometers. At the time, Emissa responded to the suffering of these displaced communities by building a camp and with immediate relief.
Suad Ahmad Al-Abdullah, a wife and mother of six children, is one of the individuals who survived the trip to the north of the country together with her family. Today, the horrors and fear experienced during these violent weeks are hardly noticeable in her warm expression.
“When we fled to the north, we arrived with nothing. We had no money, nor any other means to make a living with, and had to rely on relief agencies, which was a deeply humiliating experience”, Suad begins to tell her story.
Suad’s husband, Mohammed, suffers from rheumatism, which does not allow him to fully participate in the labor market. A temporary job that paid for the family’s new house was not sustained for long due to his illness and when Mohammed’s health deteriorated, he was forced to quit. Without an income, the Abdullah family was forced to move to a tent in one of the IDP camps of the area. “I wanted nothing more but to buy a sewing machine so I could make clothes and sell them. This is what I did for most of my life, this is what I am good at and what I can do to support my family”, Suad explains. With a loan from her relatives she was able to buy an old sewing machine, but the little money she earned went straight back into the family loan.
To respond to the rising levels of poverty, unemployment and the lack of vocational training opportunities, and to enable civilians to create their own livelihoods in dignity, Emissa initiated a livelihood project in the IDP camp in 2017. Thereby, 100 vulnerable families received support either through in-kind grants for their own businesses, or through vocational or farming training.
“When my husband told me about Emissa’s project and the opportunity of receiving modern equipment for sewing and knitting, I felt like I could see the light at the end of the tunnel”, the mother of six emphasizes. After applying and going through the interview process, the entire family nervously waited for the results. When Suad was informed that she would receive the support she needed to follow her profession and create a livelihood for her family, she could hardly believe her luck.
“I started sewing and knitting clothes from the moment I received the sewing machine from Emissa. I felt a happiness that I have not experienced in a long time because I could save money for my children and support my husband to receive the medical treatment he desperately needs”, she explains.
“My goal is to work hard, so we can leave the cold tent that has become our home and move into a house. My husband is supporting me as good as he can and I believe that together we will succeed to secure a decent life for us and our children”, Suad elaborates full of hope.