Jordan: finding safety for her children
05 June 2014

In the past three years, many Syrian mothers have had to choose between keeping their families in their homeland or fleeing to safety abroad, where the trials of everyday life are endless (Zerene Haddad/Jesuit Refugee Service).
My husband wants to go back to Syria but it's not safe for us. We have nothing here but we're safe.
Irbid, 5 June 2014 – "I was in Zaatari for a year, but we're originally from Homs. I left because my kids were getting sick there. It's a dirty place that was getting dirtier and the drinking water wasn't clean. I left Syria to keep my children safe", said Maram.

Maram, a Syrian refugee living in Jordan, is in her late twenties or early thirties. It is hard to tell. She has given birth to eight children, two of whom have died since the war started.

"When the conflict started getting worse my son was only two days old and my daughter was four months when they died. We couldn't leave the house because of the fighting outside. So many of people, so many our friends, have been killed [in Homs] because they couldn't get to hospital".

Her husband was a driver, and when things got too dangerous in Homs, around 16 months ago, they decided to leave.

"We had heard about Zaatari camp. We thought we could live there, make a life there".

It became apparent, almost immediately, that they couldn't. Her entire family moved into a tent where her six children slept on the ground. Then they moved into a caravan, a prefabricated plywood structure smaller than a mobile home.

Without any central heating in the caravan, it was next to impossible to keep the children warm at night as winter temperatures fall close to freezing. This, together with the leaky roof, kept making Maram's children ill. After losing two children to the Syrian crisis, she knew she needed find a way to keep her children safe.

A year later, Maram and her family finally moved to Irbid, about an hour drive west of the camp. She now lives in an apartment with her family. Some of the windows are missing glass, and when it snows, and it did last December, snowflakes fall into her home.

To make ends meet, both her husband and 10-year-old son, Yusuf, work during the day. Only the youngest boy, Yohannan, is in school; he attends the Jesuit Refugee Service preschool.

Maram's husband is a casual labourer. He carries bags of concrete every day, which is hard on his bad back. Her son sells vegetables from a street cart. Between them, they make five to six Jordanian dinars (seven to eight US dollars a day), but their rent is nearly 300 US dollars per month.

"Of course I'm angry… and sad that my children aren't in school".

But they have no choice for the moment.

"My husband wants to go back to Syria but it's not safe for us. We have nothing here but we're safe".

Molly Mullen, JRS International Communications Consultant