” Being a refugee has left me feeling defeated in a fight
that I have never had a chance to win. ”
My name is Lamia. I am a 43 years old Palestinian-Syrian.
I studied until the seventh grade. I used to live in Yarmouk Camp in Damascus, Syria, before coming to Shatila Refugee Camp in Beirut, Lebanon, in late 2011. Hence, I have been a refugee my entire life. In Syria, I was a Palestinian refugee, while in Lebanon, I’m a Palestinian-Syrian refugee. Being a refugee has left me feeling defeated in a fight that I have never had a chance to win.
I am married and I have four children – three boys and one girl. We all live in one room.
My husband is sick and incapable of working, so I try my best to support my family by doing odd jobs, like cooking or preparing food for others. The difficult economic situation in Lebanon has affected us in horrible ways.
The worst time of my life was in 2011 when I lived through a war and went through exile, leaving my parents behind.
Once, while I was hiding in my house with my husband and children, we suddenly heard bombs falling from the sky. We had held out hope that the war would end and that we would be able to live a normal life, but that day I realised that I had to flee Syria in order to save my children. We first ran away to my parents’ house for a short time, but it soon became clear that we had to leave everything behind and go to Lebanon.
My family and I suffered so much, because we did not have anyone who would help us. My brother, who had been living in Lebanon much before the war in Syria happened, did not help us or even talk to us. I felt, one more time, like I was fighting a battle that could not possibly be won. I lived with my husband and children in a small room without a bathroom or a faucet, where I would carry my dirty dishes to a communal faucet and wash them there. I reached out to countless NGOs and INGOs, but very few would actually help us.
And yet, I remained patient although feeling defeated on the inside. One year later, we moved to another room that could only be reached by using a metal staircase. One day, I was returning from the market with my son and daughter and I did not notice that there was a stray electric wire touching the staircase. My daughter put her hand on the railing and got electrocuted. I panicked and rushed her to the hospital, because her arm was badly injured. We spent months treating her. Shortly after, my husband developed severe back problems, and we faced many hurdles when trying to get him a proper medical treatment. If we wanted to buy his medication, my children and I would have to live without food. We were not able to afford his physiotherapy. My husband used to work as day labourer, hauling sand and rocks for 12 hours a day. He is not able to work because of these injuries.
In 2020, I heard about Intisar Foundation through NISCVT. Before the programme, I was very depressed. I stayed at home most of the time, looking after my children and my husband. I always felt like I could not go out because I was their caretaker.
” When I started the Intisar Foundation drama therapy programme, they told us to introduce ourselves, and until then, I had never spoken about myself in front of others who actually listened. “
When I started the Intisar Foundation drama therapy programme, they told us to introduce ourselves, and until then, I had never spoken about myself in front of others who actually listened. After the first two sessions, I went home feeling better, lighter, and more like myself. I slowly realised that the sessions were helping me to get out of daily stress and worries and come back to myself as a person. Throughout the drama therapy sessions, I would talk about things that I could never talk about, like my father’s death in Syria, or about the grief of not being able to go back to Syria and visit his grave. Layers of sadness were shed during those sessions.
” After just a few drama therapy sessions, I felt like I could finally open up and talk about myself and my problems. I slowly became more accepting of my past and all the difficulties, and I found out that I am a strong woman. “
After just a few drama therapy sessions, I felt like I could finally open up and talk about myself and my problems. I slowly became more accepting of my past and all the difficulties, and I found out that I am a strong woman.
The best thing about the programme was that I met women like me and we were able to connect with each other and support each other. The programme taught me to be strong and resilient. Before the programme, I often felt weak and as if I did not have anyone to rely on, but then, I realised that I could rely on myself. I have always had this strength inside me but I have never been aware of it.
I am no longer the old Lamia, the one who was afraid of going out, talking, and expressing herself. For example, if my husband and I have a disagreement, I now know that I am allowed to have an opinion and express it. I can voice my thoughts and get more respect for being strong and resilient, rather than staying quiet and feeling unheard.
As a mother, I have become more understanding and patient with my children. I appreciate them in different ways. Both my older children are extremely intelligent, and I want them to finish school and achieve more in their lives than I have. Although the economic situation is very difficult and my husband is sick, I am not losing hope. I am strong, my family is strong, and we will support each other and survive these difficult days.
I hope that all Arab women will find their strength and be able to stand up for themselves, inside and outside the house. No matter how hard things get, Intisar Foundation will help you discover your inner strength.
” I hope that all Arab women will find their strength and be able to stand up for themselves, inside and outside the house. No matter how hard things get, Intisar Foundation will help you discover your inner strength. “
Officially registered as a humanitarian organisation with the Charity Commission for England and Wales in 2019, Intisar Foundation is the first charitable organisation in the Middle East dedicated to providing psychological support programmes of drama therapy to Arab women affected by the brutality of war and violence.
Number 22, Mount Ephraim,
Tunbridge Wells, Kent TN48AS
UK Registration Charity Number: 1182384
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