Protected: A Future For Refugee Youth

February 5th, 2016 by ANERA

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Heavy rains and cold weather are making life even more miserable for refugees in Lebanon. In Nahr El Bared refugee camp and nearby makeshift shelters, young children are often seen playing in streets barefoot or in broken sandals and summer clothes.

ANERA is helping hundreds of refugee families there to better cope with the cold by delivering new TOMS winter boots.

Six-year-old Maria Dahoun is just one of the lucky beneficiaries and cannot believe her eyes when she receives a brand new pair of boots. “This is the nicest pair of shoes I’ve ever worn! They are soft and warm on the inside.”

Maria lives with her family in “the barracks” in Nahr el Bared. The Dahouns are one of 400 Palestinian families still living in metal barracks established in 2007, when clashes between the Lebanese army and militants destroyed much of Nahr el Bared camp. Their house was demolished and they were offered the temporary settlement while the camp was being rebuilt. But eight years later, Maria and her family are still living in the barracks, where Maria was born and raised.

Help refugees in Lebanon with winter boots, Nahr El Bared

Maria, and many other impoverished refugee children, live in metal barracks on the outskirts of the Nahr El Bared camp.

The TOMS distribution is part of ANERA’s ongoing efforts to help refugees in Lebanon living in the most vulnerable and isolated communities. ANERA has delivered 7,000 pairs of TOMS winter boots in Lebanon, prioritizing the barracks on the edge of Nahr el Bared. This is the fourth year of ANERA’s collaboration with TOMS Giving.

Quality Boots Make Playtime Much Safer for Refugee Children

Amid her miserable living conditions, Maria experiences a moment of joy as she and her classmates try on their new boots. “I was surprised to see we were getting these new warm boots,” she says, “This pair fits me perfectly.” Maria explains that her mother had bought her a pair of used shoes but they didn’t fit right and didn’t keep her feet dry and warm.

A Lebanon refugee child wears sandals in the wet, cold winter.

Summer sandals were the only shoes many children had, if they had shoes at all, prior to the boots distribution.

Maria’s mother is delighted and relieved. “Good shoes help children enjoy playing outdoors. They make them confident and they don’t worry about getting wet and cold.” Hanan says she made a mistake buying the used shoes but had no choice. “Good quality winter boots are expensive so we settle for whatever we can afford.”

As she watches Maria proudly marching around in her new boots, Hanan reminisces about their old home in Nahr El Bared. “I hope we will be able to return to our house someday so Maria and her siblings can feel safe and hopeful. I would love her to become a teacher and get the chance to live in a better place.”

“Children living in these metal containers are especially vulnerable in cold winter conditions,” explains ANERA’s Lebanon health manager Dima Zayat. “They are extremely poor and cannot afford the basic needs of their families. We see many children running around barefoot in the area, which makes them vulnerable to illness and parasites from the muddy and often garbage-strewn streets.”

Hanan is no longer worried about Maria playing outside. Neither is Maria. “When I wear these shoes I don’t have to worry about getting wet feet when it’s raining and I step in mud or a rain puddle.”

Help refugees in Lebanon living in metal barracks

A look into the barracks in Nahr El Bared that many Palestinian and Syrian refugees call home.

In the backyard of her home in Rafah, Gaza, Hanan Abu Sninah is busy tending dozens of pigeons and chickens, which she raises to sell as meat. She started the small business six years ago out of necessity. “When life’s harshness overwhelms you, you still have to think about providing an income for your family,” explains Hanan.

However, the difficulty of accessing a reliable Gaza water network created a big problem for Hanan.

“We struggled with water scarcity,” she says. “It pained me when my livestock needed water just as I was running out of it.” Hanan would call tankered water suppliers, but due to her location in a secluded neighborhood, the suppliers rarely showed up.

“We would go 6 days and more without a drop of water.”

When the suppliers did show up, she’d have to pay about 16 shekels (around $4.20) each time she filled her tank. This was a big sum of money that dug into the limited profits from Hanan’s small business. Sometimes, she would walk long distances to fetch water from a water station, the last thing she wanted to do under the scorching sun or in the freezing rain. Eventually, Hanan had to downsize her business and sell her goats and sheep. “I wasn’t able to provide water. I had no other option,” she explains.

Gaza water network helps Hanan care for son, Ismail

Hanan’s young son, Ismail, helps her feed and water their livestock. The water connection has enabled Hanan to maintain the family’s livelihood.

Water Connection for Rafah Residents Gives Hanan’s Family Hope

Ismail squeezes into the chicken coop carrying a bucket of water as Hanan explains how her life has changed with the new water network that ANERA recently finished implementing.

Hanan's family uses new Gaza water connection to tend livestock.

Hanan and her daughter are thrilled to have access to running water at their home. This makes tending to the livestock much easier.

“I used to spend a big chunk of my profits on purchasing domestic water for daily household chores like cooking and cleaning, as well as water for my livestock,” Hanan says. “My two children, Ismail and Mona, helped me as much as they could,” she adds. But water in Gaza neighborhoods was so scarce that there was not much they could do.

Now, the money she saves can be reinvested in her business, buying feed for the animals. She also has a small plot of land where she now grows fruits and vegetables to secure an additional source of agricultural income for her family. She irrigates it using a water-dripping system.

“I plan to bring back the goats and sheep I sold and expand the business again,” she says with a smile.

With USAID funding under ANERA’s Palestinian Community Infrastructure Development (PCID) Program, 50,000 residents in the Jeneina, Mashro’a, Barazil and El-Salam areas of Rafah are now connected to a reliable source of  water. ANERA replaced and repaired the deteriorated and damaged water networks, reducing the water losses and improving the overall water situation and quality of life for Rafah’s residents. 

The charitable medical center in the Old City of Hebron administers health care to hundreds of families in the area. Keeping up a quality service is not always easy and depends on maintaining a supply of vital medicines. Thanks to generosity of donors, ANERA has been able to support Palestine clinics through distributions of medicine that help doctors treat ailments from throat inflammations to dental woes.

Mus’ab Natsheh is one very appreciative patient. He’s the eldest son of Halima, the center’s cleaning lady. The 11 year old usually has everyone around him smiling, but one day he was feeling too miserable to spread any joy. He’d been sleepless for several days because of an aching tooth.

After the medical center finished renovations a few years ago, it expanded its services to include a fully equipped dental office. So Mus’ab was in luck. Dentist Qafisheh looked in his mouth and saw right away the youngster had not been cleaning his teeth. “I ran out of toothpaste,” Mus’ab explained, but then admitted he hadn’t really brushed for more than a year.

Medical donations support Palestine patients like Mus'ab and his mother.

Halima and her son Mus’ab are grateful for the donation and the charitable clinic’s superb treatment.

The doctor couldn’t save the decayed tooth, but he patiently explained to the youngster how to save the rest of his teeth through proper brushing and hygiene. Mus’ab was able to relieve his pain with some Ibupofen in a liquid form that’s easy for children to take. Direct Relief has donated more than 8,000 bottles of the pain reliever, which ANERA has distributed to charitable centers and hospitals most in need across the West Bank.

Young Mus’ab was happy to leave the dentist with the medicine, along with a new toothbrush and a reminder to keep his teeth clean. Mus’ab promised to brush his teeth and cut back on sweets, too. “I promise to cut back on chocolate and chips,” Mus’ab says. “But not lemon soda,” he adds mischievously.

Donations Enable Health Centers to Provide Better Care & Education

The clinic’s doctors have welcomed the donated medicines, which allows them to provide free treatments to their impoverished patients. “When you know you can count on your donors to help fill your patients’ needs , we can focus on developing and improving our medical organization,” explains Dr. Wael Al-Rajabi.

“There’s no better time to receive this donation. We had extremely cold weather these past few weeks so we’ve had many patients with upper respiratory infections.”

Patients like Zakariya Ja’bary are benefitting from the center’s development. The 45-year-old was suffering from a severe cough, difficulty in breathing and a slight fever. Dr. Al Rajabi’s examination revealed Zakariya had an inflamed trachea. Thanks to the recent Direct Relief donation, Dr. Rajabi was able to treat the bacterial inflammation with an antibitoic. ANERA distributed more than 1,100 packets of the new antibiotic to support Palestine clinics across the West Bank. Thanks to careful planning, the medicine arrived in time to help treat upper respiratory tract infections that are common in the cold winter months.

“There’s no better time to receive this donation,” explained the doctor, “We’ve had extremely cold weather these past few weeks so we’ve had many patients with upper respiratory infections. The donations really help.”

Dr. Rajabi recommends one pill a day for seven days and plenty of rest. The medicine is free of charge. That’s welcome news for Zakariya. “I have to take care of my health for the sake of my family and without the free medicine I couldn’t afford the doctor’s care. If I am sick, who else will provide for my family?”

Donations of antibiotics support Palestine clinic and patients like Zakariya

Zakariya’s family depends on him. With the antibiotics, he will get better soon.

Gaza agriculture was deeply impacted by Israeli bombing in 2014. Many fields – more than 42,000 acres of Gaza agricultural land – were destroyed, and others lay fallow due to lack of resources.

ANERA’s Gaza Land Restoration project aims to help Gaza farmers reclaim their land, grow new crops and prepare food to sell at the market.

Meet Abed Saleh Laham and his large family, one of 120 farming families supported by our donors. Abed has been a farmer for the past 70 years, and his family of some 70 people are finally able to successfully restore their land and livelihood.

Restoring Gaza Agriculture: The Story of a Farming Family

You can help Gaza farmers and other Palestinians and refugees in need. Donate today>>