‘The schools in Syria were free and right on our doorstep. Before the conflict our children could walk to school and we didn’t have to pay for stationery. Here in Lebanon our children don’t go to school as no schools accept children without payment. They have lost years from their life and have had education stolen from them.’
Abo Mohammad tells his family’s story from inside their ShelterBox tent, which they have lived in for several months since they were forced to leave war-torn Syria. It stands completely alone, desolate against the vast backdrop of the Bekaa Valley in Lebanon. They have built a makeshift kitchen that’s attached to the disaster relief tent.
‘I live here with my wife and three children. We came from Damascus. We were frightened above the limits back home as bombs would be falling all around us. I remember walking in the street and a rocket would suddenly fall and hit a nearby car, killing everyone inside; or a man walking past you would suddenly be shot dead by a sniper.’
Brimming with loneliness
Abo’s wife is sitting next to him. Their three young boys are either side of them listening intently, their eyes brimming with loneliness. They are no longer afraid but now bored.
Three years have passed since the conflict began in Syria. There are over 2.5 million Syrian refugees trying to survive in neighbouring countries. Women and children make up three quarters of this figure. Like Abo’s children, the majority are unable to go to school as families cannot afford the fees. All they can do is wait and hope that one day they can return to their homes.
ShelterBox is doing all it can do to help support Syrian families through its Syria Refugee Appeal.
World Book Day is on 6 March and ShelterBox is promoting its own book written and illustrated by children, ‘The Day the Bombs Fell’, with £1 from every sale going to help children and families, like Abo’s, caught up in the vast Syrian humanitarian crisis three years on.
‘Young people’s responses to disaster’
‘This book, the latest in our series exploring young people’s responses to disaster, is a perfect fit with the aims of World Book Day,’ said Chief Executive of ShelterBox Alison Wallace. ‘The original story by Claire White invited our young illustrators to empathise with families forced from their homes by conflict. Their response, in colourful paintings and drawings, was dynamic, compassionate and thought provoking. I am proud not only of the product, but that ShelterBox is using £1 from every copy sold to benefit Syria’s homeless.’
ShelterBox has already sent aid to support nearly 5,000 families in Syria, Iraqi Kurdistan, Lebanon and Jordan. As the third anniversary of the Syrian conflict approaches, ShelterBox is renewing its fundraising efforts to help as many families as possible, and proceeds from the book sale will add to this.
You can help
You can help bring hope to Syrian children and families too by purchasing a copy of ‘The Day the Bombs Fell’. It is available at £4 via the ShelterBox shop website, selected bookshops and Amazon.
World Book Day, on 6 March, is designated by United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) as a worldwide celebration of books and reading, and marked in over 100 countries.