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‘I pray to God that my children are safe and sound’

Jun 25,2015 - Last updated at Jun 25,2015

“Have you come to take me back to Syria? Are we going to see my children?” asks Aysha, a mother of 10, as she tries to get up with help from Mohammed, a physiotherapist with Handicap International. 

For several weeks, the 93-year-old woman has also been receiving care from Handicap International’s teams working in the Zaatari Refugee Camp in order to improve her mobility so she can move around better on her own. 

She settles back on a cushion and explains, her eyes saddened. “When the first bombs started to fall on the town, my children put me on a bus with our neighbours and told me to wait for them in Jordan. They told me they would take the next bus. Days and months passed and my neighbours have since left the camp. I’ve been waiting for nearly a year to see my children.”  

Aysha now relies on support from neighbouring families to help her go about her daily life. 

“Here in the camp, I don’t know anyone of my age who I can chat with and meet to drink tea. It was like that in Syria too, where I was the oldest person in my town. I’m lucky here that the neighbouring families give me a lot of support and help me out with food.” 

Aysha finds it difficult to move around due to her age. Certain activities have become very uncomfortable for her, like preparing meals, collecting water, or washing. 

Until recently she lived alone in a tent, a space ill-adapted for a person with reduced mobility, but with the tents now replaced by more solid structures in Zataari, her living space is much better adapted to her needs. 

Still, the living conditions in the camp are difficult for a woman of her age with the strong winds and long distances needed to be covered in order to cook, collect water or food, or to get to the sanitary block.

Aysha only thinks of her children who stayed behind in Syria. “I have six boys and four girls. One of my sons was killed in the bombing. My other children have their own families. Beautiful big families. Wherever they are, I pray to God that they are safe and sound.” 

A smile lights up her face: “I dream that they all arrive here, in front of my tent. That would be the most beautiful surprise I could have. I dream that we are all together again.” 


This article was contributed by Handicap International, one of the humanitarian agencies participating in the ‘Standing Together’ campaign in an expression of solidarity between refugee and host community, led by UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, on the occasion of World Refugee Day. 

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