Women and Lebanon, common elements of two distinct aid interventions born out of a single project. In co-operation with Caritas, we help Syrian refugee women from war zones with their children and we support migrant women from different countries, stuck in Lebanon in spite of themselves. Beyond their individual stories, all these women share denied dignity and rights.
Project objectives: to provide basic goods and survival kits, socio-psychological-health assistance, integration, literacy and education in the refugee camp of Dbayeh in Beirut; psycho-social-legal support and professional qualification in the Pine and Olive centres near the capital.
300 minors a year receive humanitarian aid
3000 migrant women a year are welcomed and helped
4000 Syrians and Palestinians benefit from the activities in the camp of Dbayeh
Dbayeh Syrian Refugee women
I saw women gazing into emptiness as if to say ‘who knows’.
The luckiest ones had managed to hold on to a bag with some personal belongings during the journey. The clothes had become a worn out second skin; the soles of their shoes were layers that had worn out walking over land that was no longer theirs.
Since 2011, civil wars in Syria have made Lebanon a border country in precarious balance already inhabited by thousands of other refugees, the result of the previous neighbouring wars.
Many have one, two, three or more children with them. In the refugee camp of Dbayeh there are now about 80 Syrian families: 100 women and 100 minors. These people must face a difficult coexistence with the Lebanese community, but also with the Palestinian one that has been welcomed in the camp since the 50s, and have to work hard every single day to achieve acceptance and integration. Around five hundred twenty-seven, between women and children currently in the camp, are currently being welcomed, fed, cared for, protected.
The migrant women of the Olive and Pine Shelters
They say that women have plenty of courage. It does take a lot of courage to want to get on your feet again after what appeared to be a decent job and the possibility to send savings to your family has turned out to be an illusion. Every day you can see the signs of abuse and violence now embedded in the skin. Then again, it used to happen every day, since when these women from Ethiopia, the Philippines and other economically precarious countries arrived in Lebanon misled by the lure of a simple but secure job, finding themselves instead isolated from the world, deprived of their passports and kept as slaves by their ’employers’. They have no legal protection, no hope of salvation.
They relate to each other shyly, you can see that they still cannot believe their slavery is over.
In 3 years we plan to host approximately 9,000 women in the Olive and Pine shelters where, for 20 years, Caritas has been welcoming domestic workers escaped from their jailers; here they get general rehabilitation and they are helped to go back home. One day these people will return to their families.
Time has gone by. Every day we have been waking up and, little by little, we have learnt to know each other. Every day is uncertain but now you happen to have a few more elements, you feel less alone. And not just in psychological terms.
Today time is more defined in the shelters, marked by appointments for each of them. Walking around the camps you spot small groups of children busy with language or computer lessons. Hours later you meet gazes that are becoming aware of the fact that tonight, like yesterday, their children will receive a hot meal for dinner. And tomorrow? The same.
Sometimes you can hear a background chattering of girls, telling each other stories: they are sharing their experience, coping with the trauma.
Some women create handmade cards and this is not a hobby: they are learning a trade. One day they will be given back the passport that was denied to them for all this time, and they will then be able to build a life with their own resources.
Part of our psychosocial course addresses conflict and aims to achieve integration, starting from the promiscuity that characterizes those camps that have been welcoming Iraqis and Palestinians for years and are now also responding to the emergency of Syrian refugees.
The other day a Syrian boy was kicking a ball with a Palestinian boy.
Some days everyone seems to be in their place and it is possible to get on with things.
CELIM, in co-operation with Caritas, helps to protect the fundamental rights of Syrian refugees and migrant women in Lebanon through: