My name is Asmaa. I’m 37 years old. I’m married. My only son Khaled is 8 years old now. I used to lead happy life with my son and husband. We had a big house and my son used to like it a lot. He had enough space to play with his friends and relatives.
Having no option but to flee
When the civil war erupted in Syria, my family had to move with my son and husband from Homs to Aleppo; as it was no longer safe for us. It wasn’t easy to convince my son Khaled to leave his beloved house. He couldn’t understand what was going on and why we were fleeing. I can never forget how sad he was when we left our house, but it was out of our hand.
We stayed for a while in Aleppo, yet had to flee again as bombardment began showering the city, but this time it was just me and my son Khaled; as my husband was arrested and since that day, I know nothing about him.
At certain point it has become clear that I can no longer live in Syria. I had to choose between two of the most difficult options: either to stay in Syria or to flee. I was under the pressure of time; as with each day, I and my son were exposed to many dangers. I took that decision that I wish no one would ever had to take. I left Syria. I left all my family, friends, history and everything I cherish behind.
I travelled to Egypt. Before that, I had to sell all my possessions to secure some money. I’ve been staying in the coastal city of Alexandria since I arrived in Egypt.
Coping with the new life
The early months were really hard. I knew no one and had to struggle to satisfy my family needs. I felt that I was fighting all alone for survival. Yet, the situation began to improve when a volunteer in the project that Plan International Egypt is implementing in partnership with UNICEF to promote the protection and well–being of Syrian and Egyptian children.
Since then, I and my son have been engaged in several of the project activities including recreational trips, psycho-social support among others. I was so happy when I saw my son Khaled mingling with other children; as due to what we passed through, he was becoming increasingly introvert and was in a bad need for psychological support.
Moreover, the programme’s activities provided me with opportunities to meet with many Syrian & Egyptian women and befriend them. I no longer feel lonely.
Responding to families' immediate needs
I’m really happy about how the project Plan is implementing is so responsive to my needs. A clear example of this is when I needed winterization items. This year, winter is so cold and I couldn’t afford buying winterization items. The situation got worse because of the heavy rain and flood Alexandria experienced in December. The rain made the ceiling of the flat where I’m staying leak and it was shivering cold.
During one of the focus group discussion I had with the project team, I and other women spoke about this issue. We were so happy when each of the families received two blankets, two quilts and three pillows. I was really happy about this.
About Plan International Egypt’s response to floods
In response to the floods crisis, Plan international Egypt, with the support of INO, managed to provide 406 affected families (316 Syrian and 90 Egyptian) with winterization items. The criteria of selecting those families included families who live in vulnerable areas, female headed families, families who have children with disabilities, families who don’t have regular income and families that have a large number of members.