When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, Hamida, Um Abdo and Wa’ad turned their sewing skills to mask-making.
Employed by the International Rescue Committee (IRC) through our Cash for Work program, these mothers are earning an income while protecting their community in northwest Syria from the coronavirus.
Um Abdo, 38, used to make clothes before the pandemic. Now she's creating face masks the IRC gives out for free along with vital information about how people can keep themselves safe from COVID-19.
Syria’s economy has been ravaged by almost a decade of war, so the extra cash earned producing the masks has been a lifeline to support families like Um Abdo’s through the winter.
Despite the dangers the coronavirus poses, for many Syrians, their biggest struggle is living through years of conflict.
While the coronavirus is a new added risk that Syrian communities now face, the conditions that Syrian migrants are living under are more pressing than the pandemic.
“We’ve experienced shelling, displacement and poverty. We’ve left our sons, our homes, our land and our livelihoods and we’ve come here.”
“We never thought that we would be living this life,” she says. “My biggest fear is that we’ll have to stay here for the rest of our lives and not be able to return home.”
Um Abdo agrees: “Coronavirus is hard but the conflict has been harder on us."
Ultimately, Hamida, Wa’ad and Um Abdo all share the same hope—that their children will not have to endure any more years living in war. Says Hamida, “I wish the children to have a better future than ours.”
Along with money to help meet basic needs, the opportunity to work has provided the three women with a little more stability as they look forward to better days ahead.
The year 2021 marks a decade of conflict in Syria, as violence, displacement and humanitarian needs continue to grow. Syria is also the deadliest country in the world for humanitarians. Attacks on aid workers, civilians, homes and hospitals remain common. Many families have been uprooted multiple times. The health system has been decimated, undermining Syrians’ ability to cope with the challenges of COVID-19.
*All names in this story have been changed for safety reasons.