Ali's Story

Ali, a Syrian refugee, was smuggled across the Lebanese border by his nephew back in 2014.

Now living in a cramped tent with ten other family members, he dreams of one day returning to a peaceful Syria.

Life in his homeland was good, but life in Lebanon is immensely hard. The cost of living is so high due to the economic crisis, that he and his family are in 7 million lira of debt. 

“I can barely afford this medicine in front of me. It is getting more and more difficult. When we first arrived, the dollar was 105 thousand. It was good. Now, we can’t afford anything, we keep borrowing money just to get by.”

Ill health compounds their misery. His wife suffers from heart problems. His daughter, Siham, has chronic sinusitis and had her tonsils removed last year. And Ali himself struggles with diabetes, high blood pressure and poor eyesight.  

Yet despite the suffering they face, vital treatment is unaffordable. His wife’s heart medication costs 175-200 thousand lira - money the family simply does not have - and Ali was recently told that he requires an eye scan costing 400 dollars. 

“I can’t afford that. I couldn’t afford half of it. It’s okay, I’ll stay like this.”

Money is so scarce that two of Ali’s children - aged 12 and 13 - go out to work every single day. There is no education available to them, so instead they harvest grapes so that the family can afford food. 

Ali fears the winter. He fears the impact that the cold weather will have on the health of his family. Last winter, water poured through the roof of his tent, exacerbating their struggles and making it impossible to stay warm, dry and healthy. 

To make matters even worse, five of his family members have had their financial support cut off, making budgets infinitely tighter at a time when keeping their tent warm is an ongoing struggle. 

“The firewood trucks sell a bag for 40-60 thousand. How can I afford that? We have nothing to sacrifice (for fuel). When we’re cold, we will bunch up beneath our blankets and be quiet. There’s nothing to be done.”

Food is also unaffordable. The family only eats meat very occasionally due to its ever-increasing price, and staples such as bread and lentils cost roughly the same as a person’s daily income. Other expenses such as rent and bills heap further pressure on the family’s ability to survive. Rent totals 600 thousand lira each month, and last month’s electricity bill totalled 175 thousand lira. 

When contemplating the forthcoming months, Ali despairs. 

“What can I do? I won’t be able to afford all the essential things needed.”

This winter, our emergency team is on the ground ensuring that families like Ali’s are safe and provided for. As well as providing cash assistance, we distribute winter survival packs containing food, fuel, blankets and mattresses.