Hanadi Shehadeh, who taught English in Syria, is seen with kindergarteners she now teaches at a school in Ramtha, Jorden, near the Syrian border.

CNS PHOTO | BARB FRAZE

Hanadi Shehadeh, who taught English in Syria, is seen with kindergarteners she now teaches at a school in Ramtha, Jorden, near the Syrian border.

January 12, 2015
BARB FRAZE
CATHOLIC NEWS SERVICE

RAMTHA, JORDAN – Samira has spent much of the past several years living in fear.

When the crisis in her home province of Dara'a, Syria, began in 2011, she was "afraid for my kids to go to school."

When the bombing in her village began, she hid in a shelter. When she emerged, "We saw big tanks, I didn't even try to reach my house."

She has been living with her husband and five children in Jordan for two years and, she said, "I'm fearful for everything . . . the whole situation."

If the UN High Commissioner for Refugees stops coupons, "where can I get the food for my kids?" she asked. That is her greatest fear, she added, to not have "the basic needs for my kids."

Samira, who asked that her real name not be used, said that, in Syria, her husband worked in a market and restaurant.

"I cannot say I was wealthy, but we were living fine," she said. Now, she added, her husband works illegally in a Jordanian restaurant, so they can afford their rent, just over $200 per month.

Life is stressful – she does not go out and socialize, and she pays the rent as fast as she can, to avoid problems.

Syria was secure – even when the Arab Spring happened in Libya, she never dreamed she would have to leave her home. She especially hates that several of her children – now ages 15, 13, 10, seven and five – are behind in their schooling.

The town of Ramtha, population 12,000, has taken in 2,500 Syrians. Samira said she is grateful for opportunities like the kindergarten her youngest daughter attends, with support from Caritas Jordan. The children are learning to print and read and are learning English.

"I have faith in God. I know that God will help us to go through all these crises," said Samira, a Muslim.

But, she added, "When I look in my kids' eyes, I can see that they have no future. They lost their future when we left" Syria.