Dae Eriksson took a recent trip to Soran, Iraq to check up on our school. While she was there she met several impactful Syrian Refugee Families. Here are her notes from that day:
Today we got to visit and interview three Syrian refugee families. Once again I was given tea by new friends who had nothing, and yet shared everything they had. We sat with them and they told us the stories of how they fled from Syria and settled, to some extent, here in Soran. We heard about their daily lives, their needs, and what they are hoping for in the future.
First I met Farrah, a sweet little girl, about 8 years old, and her family. There are seven of them total and they are living in a small structure covered with blue tarps and carpets. They left Syria three years ago and crossed the border into Iraq. Farrah’s father sells juice on the street and on a good day he can make about $7 or $8 total. But their rent is $100/month and they still have to buy food and clothing and kerosene for their stove. So things are not easy for them. It’s hard to take in this information. I wish I could help immediately, but the problem is more vast than I can handle. There are almost 100 families living in similar situations, and they don’t just need help this month - they need support in a much bigger way, a way that will allow them to become empowered to take care of themselves. So I just tell them I’m sorry and that we’ll try to help however we can. But wow, it’s a heavy feeling to think of what life must be like for them. Forced to flee their country and now living in a shelter that won’t keep them warm in the winter or protected from the harsh heat of the summer. And yet Farrah finds a reason to smile. It seems she’s just happy to have some new friends.
After we said goodbye to Farrah’s sisters, brother and mother, she became our little tour guide and introduced us to a couple more Syrian families living a few blocks away. She led us through the streets, looking back now and then and smiling shyly and laughing when I asked her “Farah WHERE are you taking us??”
Then we arrived at her friend’s house and they welcomed us inside. Unlike Farah’s house which was on the side of the road and a single structure, this family lived in a room within a larger building. It was a small room, and this is where they all lived, had meals, and slept at night. They told us that there were 12 of them living here. Our friend Hersh continued to interpret for us and explained that they also had to pay rent, about $100/month. The father in this family was injured and couldn’t work, so the sons who were almost grown did construction jobs when they could find work. But it was also very difficult for them to afford rent. The more I learn about these families the more I want to do something to help, and I think we can. I was just trying to imagine if my friends or family were in a similar situation. Once you know about it, it’s hard to forget.
Photo by Zac Jones