A story of warmth

Meet seven-year-old Fatima from Syria

Seven-year-old Fatima was playing outside in her new bright red jacket when the ReliefAid team (ShelterBox’s partner in Syria) met her and her family for an interview.

They asked if she liked her new clothes, “yes,” she said, “I love them especially the jacket it is red and new.”

Fatima’s family have moved many times since leaving their home. Sadly, her older sister was killed by an airstrike. The team spoke of Fatima’s smile capturing the impact of ShelterBox’s work in Syria.

When they first met Fatima, she was sitting on the ground in a tent as her mother Samira described how she would not let her children outside “because of the cold”. Now she plays happily outside alongside other children enjoying the warmth of their new winter clothes. 

Fatima’s great-grandmother also lives in the camp with Fatima and her mother. Living in a tent in a displacement camp is hard any time of the year, but the bitterly cold winter months bring additional challenges. Fatima’s mother Samira spoke about the hardships they encounter:

“Winter here is harsh and cold and people suffer because of it. There is no support for us to get blankets or anything to help us. If I want to bath my children, it is difficult because I am afraid of diseases. There are also difficulties cleaning and washing because of the cold water. For example, when children go to school or out of the tent, they come back very dirty. The situation here is very miserable and we do not let the children out because of the cold.”

For the elderly, winter is hard to a greater degree. Fatima’s great-grandmother is sick a lot in winter because of the cold.  She needs permanent care, but there are no medical facilities available for the family.

The earth is muddy,” said Samira, “she cannot walk on it.

For families like Fatima’s, ShelterBox’s winter shelter kits improve the quality of life for young and old alike. Despite the cold wet day when ReliefAid distributed the aid, there was great excitement when it arrived.

After delivering the shelter kits ReliefAid returned to the camp and asked Samira about the kit she received: 

“The kit was excellent and helped us a lot. My children have clothes and we got a lot of useful items. We didn’t have enough materials and now we have carpets and mattresses to sleep on. When we left our homes, we could not bring much with us, the blankets give us and our children warmth in the winter.”

“The lamps are useful because we have no electricity and they help us outside the tent at night. We also benefitted from the kitchen set, as it contains dishes, spoons and other things. The tarpaulin protects the tent from rain and wind,” said Samira. “There are old people who do not have anything to protect them from the cold, like my grandmother.” 

Fatima and her mother, Samira sitting on their mattresses

The family were given carpets, blankets and other items that protect them from cold and disease.

“Now they will not have to borrow things to keep them warm from neighbours and their situation is better. The kits were excellent thank you.”

Supporting families around the world

A donation as little as $30 could provide a family like Fatima’s with an emergency solar light to brighten dark and dangerous paths. 

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