Hiba*, a 36-year-old mother of 3, is a volunteer nursery caregiver at the Plan International Jordan centre in Azraq refugee camp. After a harrowing journey, she and 2 of her children found refuge in Azraq in 2016. Despite many hardships, Hiba has been able to find some peace through volunteering.
After her husband passed away from a blood clot in 2013, Hiba was living in rural Homs with her 2 sons Mohammad and Abdulsalam, now 14 and 13, and her daughter, Reham, now 8. On one night in 2015, Hiba and her children fled with other family members to the sound of bombing in their neighbourhood.
For 6 months, Hiba and her family moved from place to place, staying until the bombs followed. “We had to sleep in a basement for a whole day because the bombing outside was so strong,” she says.
My hope is for my children to grow up and to have a good education.
Once the bombing let up, Mohammad and one of his uncles left the basement to fix their car so they could find a safer place. The car was hit by a bomb, resulting in the death of the uncle. Mohammad sustained injuries to his hand, stomach, and leg and is still receiving treatment.
Hiba and her family had to keep moving around, sometimes having to camp in the middle of the desert. “We had nothing,” she says.
Eventually, Hiba’s family learned about the Rukban and Sater border areas between Syria and Jordan. They reached Sater, where they would stay for 5 months.
Hiba’s mother-in-law and brothers-in-law wanted to continue on to Lebanon with Hiba to raise her children, but Hiba’s mother and brothers wanted to go to Jordan. The family decided to separate, with Hiba and her children following her brothers to Jordan, but her in-laws took her oldest son with them because they believed it would be better for Mohammad to be raised by his uncles.
Hiba says, “After this, I went through a really bad time.” She delayed entering Jordan for some time because she held onto the hope that Mohammad would come back to her. When he didn’t return, she had to enter Jordan without her son. Hiba, her 2 youngest children, and her mother and brothers were taken directly to Azraq camp.
Volunteering in Jordan
After settling into life in Azraq, Hiba started volunteering with Plan International Jordan. Her 2 children attend the centre and enjoy the activities it offers.
“I thank God because I am safe here and we can sleep well at night,” she says. “When my husband died, I thought that everything was over. But I got my power back. I built myself back up.”
Hiba’s motivation to keep going comes from her children. She says, “Everyone should give everything to their children, and they will receive something good from them. My hope is for my children to grow up and to have a good education and to stay together.”
She also dreams of reuniting with her son Mohammad in Jordan. “I don’t want anything else,” she says.
*Name changed to protect identity