In March 2018, a fierce offensive left Eastern Ghouta in rubble, with more than 1,000 people killed in only one month. Sara*, is one of those who fled to Idlib to save their lives, but as violence escalates day by day in the northwestern governorate, she finds herself and her children in danger once more.
“What we’re witnessing in Idlib today is similar of what we witnessed before in Ghouta,” she says. “I have three children. My nine-year-old girl was injured in Ghouta and she gets scared the most when we hear the sound of bombs. She keeps asking, “why don’t we have a normal life like all other children?” When the shelling gets close, she cries and she says how afraid she is that she will lose one of us. She worries that she will be left alone in this world.”
Even though Sara’s daughter was not severely injured when they were in Ghouta, the psychological scars of the offensive are apparent. It has left her stressed, constantly biting her nails. She has become very sensitive and when she gets scared, even from the slightest things, she wets herself.
“No matter how scared I am, I try to stay strong for her. I keep telling her that we will be safe and nothing can harm us”.
“My younger son is only seven years old. He doesn’t get scared and often wants me to take him outside to play. Sometimes, when I don’t hear military aircrafts flying overhead, I let them go outside and play in the open. I cannot always keep them inside. They can’t live in a prison,” says Sara.
“My youngest girl is one year and a half. She understands the sound of bombardment and can feel the tension around when something is happening. She cries when we have to run and I hold her tight in my arms to keep her safe.”
“I always try to reassure them that we will stay safe and nothing will harm us. I hold my daughter and try to distract her, telling her imaginary stories of superheroes and safe lands”.
Sara is one the women who visits a CARE-supported center in Idlib on a daily basis. The center is run by Women Now for Development and is one of three centers that CARE supports in the governorate. It is located in the underground floor of a building to ensure the safety of participants in case of an emergency.
In partnership with CARE, Women Now provides educational courses, vocational training, CV writing and literacy courses to Syrian women, aged 15 to 70. A special children’s corner helps mothers attend the courses with their children, while a dedicated member of staff looks after them. Over 2,100 women have visited the center between April 2018 and March 2019.
Learn more about CARE's work in Syria.
View of the destruction in southern Idlib from the balcony of one of the teachers at a CARE-supported center. © Women Now