In March of 2011, violent Syrian government crackdowns on public, anti-government demonstrations sparked country-wide violence and led to a massive wave of refugees fleeing for their lives. As the tension continually increased, ISIS wreaked havoc and destruction throughout the country leading to more than 500,000 killed and many more injured and/or displaced. Since that time, more than 5.6 million Syrians have been forced to flee their countries and another 6.6 million are internally displaced. The majority of refugees have fled to nearby Turkey, Jordan, and Lebanon, with Lebanon hosting the highest number of refugees per capita, one out of every four, (almost 1 million as of November 2019).
THE PROBLEM AND THE SOLUTION
Our partners in Lebanon, have responded to this refugee crisis for many years with a holistic vision of caring for these refugees spiritually, physically, emotionally, and educationally. While this work continues in many cities throughout Lebanon, they have begun work to help these refugees start the process of rebuilding their lives, families, and communities back in Syria. The work of repatriation is multi-faceted and must be done with the utmost care, but many of these families are eager to be reunified with family members and begin the work of creating a flourishing community once again.
Fatima, her husband, Ahmed, and her three kids have been living as Syrian refugees in Lebanon since the beginning of the Syrian war. Though being a vocational teacher back in Syria, Admed is working as a gatekeeper in Lebanon and can barely pay for the living expenses (food, water, electricity, heating, schools, diapers, clothes, etc.). Lately, with the current intense economic crisis in Lebanon and the increasing needs of the children, Fatima decided to go back to a safe area in Syria with her family. Because of security risks, Ahmed will remain in Lebanon for the time being.
When Fatima arrives in Syria, she will live with her in-laws while her home is being rebuilt. Once she begins to resettle in her newly rebuilt home, reacquainting herself with familiar surroundings and long-lost friends, she will work with a team on the ground to determine a viable business, come up with a business plan and start the necessary work to begin the business within 6 months of returning. After one year, Fatima’s business should be making a profit to provide for her family and contribute to the flourishing of the entire community by providing jobs for other people.
The Repatriation and Self-Reliance project combines both a practical and sustainable way for refugees to begin this process. The first being a home and the second being income-generating projects. This holistic plan includes the many aspects of helping a family move and reestablish life in a new, albeit familiar place. The first phase of repatriation includes the family building a relationship and going through an assessment process with our partners. After a time of assessment, the family will begin selling their possessions and applying for any appropriate paperwork to return to their home. The timeline for this part of the process can be anywhere from 2 weeks to 6 months, depending on the current border situation. Once the family obtains the needed paperwork, they will cross the border and begin the second phase of repatriation which includes the rebuilding of the family home, developing a sustainable business plan and taking the necessary steps to start a business. This second phase can happen relatively quickly, with the home building process taking around two months and the starting of a business happening in quick succession.
Families that have lived through the trauma of war and the separation from family, friends, language, and culture are desperate for a sense of familiarity. This repatriation project not only provides families with things that are needed to survive but strategically provides them with the opportunity to thrive through a business. As these families return to their homes and have the tools to succeed at their disposal, they contribute to the flourishing of the entire community through their businesses, their homes, and their modeling of a life of honor.
2021 Goal: 20 Syrian Refugee Families
Home built with family residing in it
Business started with a plan to financial sustainability over a 1-year period
If applicable, children starting (or restarting) education