It is summer, a time usually associated with vacations, camps and long stays in tents outdoor- in the lap of Mother Nature. It is a time when people look to enjoy a well-earned holiday after a long season.
But in Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley, there is a Syrian family that is not too excited to be spending their third summer in a tent. Fouad* did not set this tented settlement up for joy; it is the only shelter he could secure in refuge.
‘’I could do nothing to make the tent less exposed,’’ says Fouad with a hopeless tone.
‘’Last winter, we felt as though the whole tent would collapse under the rain. The thin sheets covering the tent got torn out and the whole place was flooded. We also suffered with little privacy- it felt like living out in the open. It was no more than a thin veil that separated us from the outside world.‘’
For the last three years, the 34-year-old, his wife and seven children have spent dawns and dusks, hot days and stormy nights in here. The plastic sheets that became the roof and walls not only did little to stop the searing heat and freezing cold from invading his tent. They did little to help Fouad’s 12-year-old disabled son Khaled, whose illness worsened in the heat.
‘’Khaled* was born with disability,’’ explains Fouad, patting his son gently on the head. ‘’Last year, the heat affected him so badly that he had a recurrence of convulsions. He would lose awareness and remain in physical pain for hours. We were warned that unless we controlled the temperature inside the tent, his situation would only get worse.’’
Khaled is one of more 100,000 Syrian refugee children in need of shelter assistance in Lebanon. Save the Children has reached 5,570 of them with insulation kits that helped keep the temperature inside tents at reasonable range across seasons and protect families from harsh weather conditions. The total number of individuals supported has reached 10,452.
The intervention gave solace to Fouad. It seems to have not only brought milder temperatures to the place, but also a smile back on Khaled’s face. The boy seems to have felt the difference. He doesn’t stay outside the tent for long hours anymore. He is happy to be inside again.
‘’We are grateful for this support,’’ beams Fouad. ‘’It is amazing how this addition to the room has made all the difference.’’
In spite of all the struggle his family has been through, Fouad is happy to be able to shield his seven children from the rough weather after enduring three years of hardship. Protection might sound a basic right to many, but for Fouad and millions of refugees, it is a treasure they are desperate to find in times of distress.