Survival While War Wages On - Human Rights

Mother sits with her son smiling.

Two months before the Syrian war began to ravage the country in 2011, Mariam lost her husband to a heart attack, leaving her pregnant with her son, Mahmoud, only to give birth just as the fighting began. 

“He is turning eight now, like the war,” Mariam said.

As a single parent, struggling to survive and provide for her four children. Mariam found work on a farm and became the sole caregiver and breadwinner in her family. She earned the equivalent of 20 U.S. cents per day—barely enough to feed or house her family. Mother sits with her son smiling.

Thankfully, a CFC-sponsored organization came to Mariam’s rescue.

As a new mother, Mariam recalls the difficulty of working just months after she gave birth to Mahmoud.

“I started taking Mahmoud with me to the field when he was only a few weeks old. He used to cry so much, and I was scared that the owner of the farm would fire me.”

She lived under the constant fear that she would lose her family’s source of income.

“I would wrap him in a piece of fabric and leave him with my daughter. When he cried, I would quickly breastfeed him. I prayed that the owner of the farm would not see me.”

She eventually had to take her oldest two children out of school to help look after the younger ones while she worked.

“It was so hard for me, but I did not have a choice,” Mariam said. “How else would we have survived? I can endure hunger, but my children can’t.”

To make ends meet, Mariam’s oldest daughter now works with her on a farm to help provide for the family.

“It makes me very sad. My older son can’t even read or write. If he sees a sign on the road, he has to ask his sister to read it for him,” she said. “Every person should have a happy childhood. It matters for our future. And I feel so sad that I am unable to give this to my children.”

But through CFC-supported organizations’ support for widows, Mariam and her family were provided with new resources for living, such as sheep.

“When we received the sheep, my children and I were very happy. We had nothing at all. This meant so much to us. One of the sheep was even pregnant,” she said.

No longer does Mariam have to buy milk as the sheep give enough milk for her and her children. In the spring, Mariam plans to shear the sheep and make pillows and mattresses to earn some extra money.

In part to the assistance a CFC-supported organization provided, Mariam has new hopes for her family in Syria.

“I hope that my children can go back to school and live the life they deserve,” she said.

Human Rights