If you meet Shakiba, you’ll notice that she talks a little bit too quickly. You might not understand some of what she is saying, but her story, her heartbreak and resilience should be heard. That’s what we are here to tell you about.
Do you know that thousands of elderly refugees, like Shakiba and her husband, live in areas that reach sub-zero temperatures in winter?
“When the bombing and violence started, some 15 people from my family died. We were afraid and we fled.” Shakiba.
Shakiba and her husband fled Syria to Lebanon in the winter of 2014. This year witnessed a dramatic increase in displacement figures around the world with an average of 42,000 persons every day. Shakiba told us: “We came here in 2014. It was windy and snowy. We sat in the mud, homeless. We sat in a tent; God only knows about us.”
“I spent two years burning old clothes and shoes in the heater to get warmth. Sometimes we ended up coughing, sometimes we got sick… only God knew about our situation.”
Today, the couple live in a tent in one of the informal settlements in Arsal’s wasteland in the Bekaa Valley, where temperatures often decrease to subzero levels and receive heavy snowfall during winter. Shakiba is the sole caregiver to her husband. “My husband is 83-years-old, he can’t move on his own. So, I made a toilet inside the tent.”
Last year, Lebanon witnessed severe winter weather with heavy snow and rainfall, which lead to a lot of damage to tents in many informal settlements. Shakiba told us that it stayed raining and snowing for 20 consecutive days. “I swear, the snow reached the windows, we couldn’t open the door…”
“We only have God and UNHCR taking care of us and helping us.”
Shakiba’s family is one among the thousands of refugee families that UNHCR aims to reach with vital winter assistance this year. We aim to respond to the needs of 3.88 refugees and internally displaced persons in the region (across Lebanon, Jordan, Syria, Iraq, and Egypt). Many refugees and displaced families are eligible for Zakat, and your Zakat this winter can directly help a vulnerable family to afford fuel for the heater, warm clothes, food, and medicine.
Poverty is one of the most overwhelming consequences of the protracted conflict that Shakiba and many refugees find themselves in. This year, the COVID-19 pandemic and economic crisis, especially in Lebanon, have pushed many refugees deeper into poverty and debt. UNHCR estimates that now 90% of refugees in Lebanon live in extreme poverty. Last year, UNHCR was able to provide winter cash assistance to Shakiba and her husband. “I received 550,000LL for fuel from UNHCR. Thanks to this, I paid 300,000LL to the grocery and vegetables shop. And I bought fuel with the rest.”
There is a lot of patience, kindness, and mercifulness in the story of Shakiba, especially how she takes care of her elderly and disabled husband. We can feel the endurance of her situation but also are deeply touched by her dedication. “I take care of my elderly husband. He has only me after God. We spent our lives together, now I leave him? I won’t. I must take care of him. I take him out, I feed him, I give him a bath… everything… Sometimes, I get mad, sometimes I shout, sometimes I cry… but I thank God. I cry because of our situation. We weren’t living like this before…what can we do, we have to endure”
Please Commit to Kindness this year. Refugees like dear Shakiba are counting on it. You can either give Zakat here or download the GiveZakat app.
Below are 5 benefits that you get in using our brand new “GiveZakat” app:
1- Calculate your Zakat easily and simply.
2- Choose the destination of families you want to help with your Zakat.
3- Dedicate your Zakat effectively. 100% of your Zakat reaches eligible families.
4- Receive notifications on the journey of your Zakat donation until it reaches beneficiary families.
5- See the impact of your Zakat on the blog. Get closer to the families you help.
This winter, please Commit to Kindness.