Portraits of Syrian Refugees

Here Helen Manson from Tearfund New Zealand provides portraits of Syrian refugees at a LSESD Food Distribution Centre in Lebanon. On her recent field trip Helen also took photos and conducted interviews for other Integral Members with work in the region, as well as generously making her work available to all Integral Members for use in their own countries.

Brina Leroux, Medair’s Head of Marketing and Relationships Support, said, “We are so grateful to Helen for taking the time to capture our projects so beautifully! She has given us a lovely gift. It’s so great to have this sort of collaboration with our fellow Integral Members!”

This photo essay portrays five Syrian refugees and gives us a glimpse of life through their eyes.

Mother of 18 month old boy and baby on the way

“I fled Syria when I was seven months pregnant. It was very hard as I had to leave my parents behind and come by myself. Here I don’t have anyone. Shortly after I arrived, I gave birth and then soon after that I had to start working so that I could provide for my son. Sometimes I had to borrow money so that he would have enough. Then the church started helping us. I am so grateful for the milk and diapers they gave me.  These food boxes are very helpful to our family as we have to pay rent – we have a small baby and we are pregnant. We have been here for two years but I miss Syria so much as it is my country.”

Young Mother of four with 25 day old baby

“I am 24 years old and I have four children. The oldest is five years and the youngest is 25 days old.  I was at university and then my parents made me stop and get married. We got back from Aleppo six months ago. On the way to Lebanon at one point they made my husband get down from the car and I was so scared we would never see him again. I was more than scared, I was horrified. I had seen many people get their throats cut on the way and thought they would do that to my husband.

“My neighbour told me there was a church that gave assistance and so one day when they came to visit my neighbour they also came to visit me. They have given me many food boxes. They even came to visit me ten days ago and I thought that was very loving. They’ve given us a mattress to sleep on, food boxes and some fuel for the stove to keep us warm in the winter.”

Young mother with two children 

“I have two children, the boy is one and the little girl is three.  I left Syria because of the war and many problems. I saw many things. ISIS is in my region right now. I feel scared knowing they are in my region. I have some family members like my Aunts still there but at least my parents escaped.  I saw people that lived next to me coming to get assistance and decided to come with them one day. I’ve been given food boxes in the last months. I don’t have a favourite thing inside it. Everything inside the box is grace.”

Father with six children

“I am 57 years old and I have six children. I’m from Aleppo but have been living in Lebanon for four years. The youngest child I have is eight and the oldest two are 39 and living in Turkey. In Syria we lived in a house but every time that we left we didn’t know if we’d ever come back. I was scared for my family but also felt that I had to provide for them. It was very hard.  I saw with my own eyes people dead on the streets. One 14 year old girl was covered with a carpet and had been like that for 15-20 days. No one had buried her. As a father I struggled to accept that – it could have been my daughter. I cannot explain what it was like to see that. We left the village because there was no work, no money, no goods in the market and nothing available. We had no choice but to leave. Thinking I might die in this country is very hard. The church that is helping me with food used to come to my neighbourhood and one day they invited me to receive some help. I felt grateful for them and I hope God protects them. I hope that God gives this church back everything they have given us.”

Syrian Refugee who is distributing food boxes to Syrian refugees

“We came to Lebanon four years ago. When we first came we didn’t have anything and we stayed in a tent for over a year. I remember one day my eight year old daughter ran away from home. I have five daughters and one son. I searched for her the whole day and finally found her outside a random house. She was crying and saying she just wants to live in a house like this again. I told her I understood and that she deserves a house like this. That was a hard day.

“We are serving between 500 and 1500 families per month. Many of these families were living a high life in Syria and so it is really hard for them to accept help. So I try to talk to them to distract them. I ask them about their families and how they are doing. I think it also helps that I myself am Syrian.

“The items inside a food box are usually enough for a few weeks. This box is a blessing for a house. It is a small offering but it makes a big difference.” 

Photos and interviews by Helen Manson, 2017