“I could see the fear in my children’s eyes” said Nassra, as she describes the moment she decided to flee her family home.
“It was not an easy decision, but we knew we had no option. It was leave, or die”
Nassra, along with her husband, five children, her sister and her sister’s two children, left their hometown of Dara for the sprawl of Zaatari refugee camp. Two days after fleeing their home, Nassra found out from neighbor’s that her house had been destroyed. Had they stayed any longer, they would have died.
In Zaatari, they lived in two small caravans. They received food vouchers from UNHCR and did not work. Nassra’s husband worked as a bus driver in Syria, but Jordanian law stipulates that refugees entering Jordan, are not allowed to enter into paid employment.
During Nassra’s time in Zataari she got involved in the Action Aid women’s circles initiative; a project empowering women and youth to agree on what ‘they’ need for life in the camp and for Action Aid to either help by providing these provisions, or to give them the skills and training to enable them to lobby decision makers to make it happen themselves.
Nassra and other women in district nine in Zataari, agreed that it was unsafe for women using the shared bathroom facilities at nighttime. They needed solar powered lights and torches and electricity. UNHCR were in the process of providing electricity to all of the districts throughout Zataari, but could not provide electricity for another five months. Nassra, along with ActionAid and the rest of the women’s circles, lobbied for a quicker response to the electricity problem, which was resolved.
Nassra also received some first aid training from ActionAid. She had to put this into practice when her eldest son became breathless. She gave him an oxygen mask and he eventually regained his breathing.
After six months in Zataari, Nassra and her family moved to a private rented apartment in Irbid. She said “There was no privacy in Zataari. We had to share a bathroom. That is very difficult for a woman,”
Despite Nassra earning her privacy, living in Irbid comes with other complications. Her family must pay 150 JD (approx. $225) in rent and they are struggling to pay the bills
“We are worried we will be kicked out of our apartment. We are three months behind on the rent”
Nassra is in so much distress and worry over her financial situation she feels that going back to Syria feels like a better option.
“Our life here now is dark. We would like to go back to Syria where life is cheaper and easier, but there are too many checkpoints along the way”