Interview by Sophie Nasrallah, MERATH Communications Officer

We are from Afrin, Syria. The war broke out and everything around us got destroyed so we had to leave our home. We have been living in Lebanon since 2018 with our two boys (now 5 and 2 years old) and it hasn’t been easy. We stayed in Zahle for a while, almost two years. My husband is deaf and mute. He was like that before but it got worse due to the fear and trauma of the war. So it made it very difficult for him to find work and our financial situation has long been terrible.

Eventually he found a job in a bakery, but his employer was very abusive and he felt very humiliated. He worked there for 3 years and exhausted himself for a very small salary. He used to leave the house at 4:30 AM and come back at 3 PM. He never had a day off, was forbidden to take our older son there, could never sit down, eat or drink anything from the bakery, and he did all the preparing, cooking, and cleaning. He would also bring ingredients at home in the evening so I can prepare them for the next day. I never got paid for that work. When I tried to complain to the owner on his behalf, he told me I should thank God that he was allowing him to work there in the first place despite his handicap.

Our landlord tells us the same thing when we try to advocate that the rent is too expensive for us. The place is very small, the ceiling is leaking whenever it rains, and yet he wants to double the price of rent and charge us LBP 1,000,000 every month. We cannot afford it but he says he should ask even more and is doing us a favor.

Another big issue is that we have no money to afford medical care. My husband went through a lot of health issues and suffered terrible back pain but he couldn’t get any treatment or medicine. I myself developed kidney stones from drinking tap water, and I had a complicated delivery for my second son. He had to be born by C-section but it left me with a lot of debt and I couldn’t afford the post-surgery treatment and medication. It was so painful and I kept bleeding. I have no family here to help me. So it meant so much to me that my friends from the church bought the medicine I needed and stood by me. I thank God for these people!