Eight-year-old Mahmoud and his family are from a rural village in Syria where they used to work in agriculture.
They lived there until it was bombed. His life was like most boys of his age, in the morning he got up and went to school. When he finished, he would meet his family at their work before heading home to do his homework. Mahmoud is the youngest in a big family. Their house was a regular gathering place for family and friends. In his spare time Mahmoud helped his mother with house work, played with his friends, played football and swam.
ShelterBox’s partner in Syria ReliefAid met Mahmoud and his family during a need’s assessment visit in July 2019. They were living in a bare tent in a camp being established to cater newly displaced families. The camp was under construction on rocky barren ground.
His Mother told the team how they had left their home fearing for their lives. Explaining that one night fourteen shells landed around their home. She said she made the children put pillows over their heads. She laughed at her naivety, thinking the pillows would protect them.
ReliefAid asked Mahmoud him about his life at the camp. When they asked if he liked living there, he said:
“No, because there are scorpions, snakes and many rocks here. I don’t have games here and I don’t know where my friends in the village went. I play with my sister outside a bit and then we go back to the tent because it is very hot outside. I miss playing games, my white ball and my bike, but I didn’t bring them with me because we left quickly because of the shelling.”
Safety from shelling brings new hazards. Snakes and scorpions thrive in the rocky landscape.
Mahmoud’s mother said she removes up to five scorpions a day from their tent and her sister in law was bitten by a snake while feeding her baby. Night times are worse, with no light and no protection. The camp manager echoed these concerns to the ReliefAid team, and also pointed out the hazards of falling rocks to small boys looking for adventure.
ShelterBox’s emergency shelter kit has alleviated some of these concerns.
Delivered to the camp by ReliefAid, it included vital items to keep families safe: mosquito nets protect the children at night, solar lamps provide light and items like water containers and cooking sets mean families can be self-sufficient in their tents.
Mahmoud sleeps more easily now and dreams about his home. He told the team:
“I hope the fighting ends, we go home, I see my friends and play with my white ball.”