Souhour smiles and begins to type in on her smartphone the answer to the question that Leila, GVC’s field officer, has just asked her. She writes that she’s well and happy to see her, and stresses her feelings by including a string of emoji hearts, as in the last few her and Leila have established a strong affection to each other.
Souhour is young disabled Syrian woman, and the cheap smartphone in her hands is the most effective tool for communicating with the world around her. She is forced on a wheelchair and has difficulties expressing herself with words; She is originally from Homs and now lives in a tent with her family (her sister and mother) in Al Qasr, in the northern Beqaa Valley of Lebanon.
Today is a special day for Souhour: GVC will be delivering a latrine specifically designed to accommodate her needs and that will significantly improve her living conditions. She is one of about 200,000 Syrian refugees living in ITS (Informal Tented Settlement) in the northern Beqaa. The shelters have been provided through ECHO funding programmes by Gruppo di Volontariato Civile (GVC), one of the few international organizations that has been operating at the border with Syria in order to help the population fleeing from the 7 years-old conflict.
The story of Souhour and her family, is one of many that not only encapsulate the despair of Syrian refugees who have lost everything, but also the solidarity of the hosting Lebanese civil society as well as ECHO’s humanitarian commitment to the wellbeing of those in need.
When Abu Ali saw Souhour and her family stranded in the streets of Zahle, one of the main cities of the Beqaa Valley, he did not waste time and immediately contacted GVC’s operational office in Ain, which is committed to provide support, as well as shelters , latrines, water schemes and water tanks, to Syrian refugees in the north of the Beqaa Valley.
Touched by the compelling story of Souhour and her family, Abu Ali, who owns a farm in Al Qasr area, decided to take care of them and agreed to setup a shelter on his land, in the backyard of his own house. Since then, the two families have built a relationship based on mutual respect, solidarity and friendship, especially between Souhour, her sister and Abu Ali’s daughters.