Lebanon: Quilts for Refugees Serve Many Uses

October 25, 2013 ANERA
Emergency Response, Health, Humanitarian Relief, In-Kind Medical and Relief, Lebanon, Palestinian Refugee Camps
Palestinian woman from Syria looks out from her makeshift shelter in a Lebanon camp where she now lives with her family.

By Charlotte Bruneau, ANERA Lebanon

More than 55,000 Palestinians from Syria sought refuge in Lebanon over the last several months. Many naturally have headed for the Palestinian refugee camps that were set up in Lebanon more than 60 years ago. Palestinian families in the camps are very welcoming but their living conditions, already critical, have worsened with the flood of new refugees.

ANERA’s emergency relief campaign responds quickly with thousands of quilts, medicines and other basic supplies.

ANERA quickly recognized the necessity to assist both host and arriving communities and launched an emergency relief campaign. With funding from the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) we were able to ship Lutheran World Relief’s donation of 24,000 quilts and distribute them in April to Palestinian refugees from Syria in camps across Lebanon.

“I love this blanket. It reminds me of my grandmother who got one just like this from a foreign organization when she fled from Palestine to Syria.” Easy to recognize, these hand-made quilts leap from Hasna’s childhood memories to today’s harsh reality.

Palestinian grandmother sits with two children in their cramped shelter in Lebanon camp where they survive on emergency relief donations.

Hasna and two grandchildren in their cramped shelter.

I want to learn more about Hasna and how she came to find refuge in Al Bas camp in southern Lebanon. When I visit the camp, community worker Khawla Khalaf describes how the quilts were distributed. Khawla works with ANERA’s longtime local partner Beit Atfal Assumoud. “We had to rent warehouses and recruit a whole team. In the end, we even had a surplus of quilts that were donated to newcomers who had not registered with us yet.”

Khawla sends me to visit one of the families who recently arrived from Syria. I enter the three-bedroom house and find five families huddled inside. This is where I meet Hasna. After sharing the memory of her grandmother’s quilt, she frowns. “Although the quilts are nice, I hope this the last time that we need to receive them.” Her words are a sad reminder that for many Palestinians from Syria, this is a second exile. The fears of its longevity are unspoken but ever-present.

Trying to change the subject, Hasna’s husband Mahmoud shows me around, joking about the quilts.

Young community worker helps sorts quilt to be distributed to more than 20,000 Palestinian refugees from Syria.

Young community worker sorts quilts for distribution.

Nearby, Sleiman and his wife Leila are crammed into one room with their five children, including their six-month-old who was born in Lebanon after they arrived.

Sleiman says the situation is exhausting and frustrating. “We are arguing more often these days. The whole family is crammed into this room and I can’t find a job. I just feel so humiliated. In Syria, I was respected in my community and took my wife out every day.”

Asked about what they need now, they say the list too long. I know that quilts alone cannot alter that long list but Sleiman corrects me. “It is not just about the quilts,” he explains, “but about the kindness with which it is given. It’s good to know that someone meant it for me and my family.”

Palestinian men from Syria sheltering in Lebanon camps sit and talk about how to care for their families without jobs.

Palestinian men from Syria sheltering in Lebanon camps sit and talk about how to care for their families without jobs.

3 Responses to “Lebanon: Quilts for Refugees Serve Many Uses”

  1. December 03, 2013 at 4:13 pm, Marianne torres said:

    Can I contribute a quilt for refugees, and if so, how?

    This situation is so outrageous.

    thank you for your work

  2. December 04, 2013 at 6:09 pm, ANERA said:

    Hi Marriane, thank you for your desire to help. There are so many people who share your concern.

    A monetary contribution is the best way to make sure a refugee family can receive a quilt. Here’s why:

    In most cases ANERA has many of the needed supplies (like quilts, hygiene kits and medicine) on-hand, but we need to raise the money needed to ship and distribute them. This money goes to things like fuel for trucks, storage facility fees, and other distribution costs. So, it is so much more efficient to make a donation that will allow us to deliver all of these supplies (which include thousands of quilts), then to pay for the shipping, handling and coordination of each individual quilt.

    Thank you so much for your support and concern. Please fee free to contact us if you have any more questions.

  3. March 24, 2014 at 10:18 pm, Marianne torres said:

    Thanks for the reply. I do regularly contribute $ to ANERA for their excellent work. Just thought there might be something else I could do, in addition to the work my husband and I do nearly full time to help bring justice to this torn region.

    In solidarity with Palestine – and with all displaced persons.

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