Haj Zaher Muhammad, 51 years old

We came to Lebanon about 2 years ago and did not go back to Syria ever since. Our clothes, the Quran, and a suitcase with our identity papers are all we brought from Syria.

I come from the countryside of Raqqa. I am a father to 8 girls. Three of them are married and 5 are single. One of the married daughters stayed in Syria with her husband and all the others came with me.

I brought the Quran with me because we read from it on a daily basis. I keep it in a special suitcase. My girls read the Quran. I read to them as well. We all cannot do without it; it is just like our identity. All my children were getting an education in Syria but there is no more schooling for them here. Therefore we at least gather in the evening and read from the Quran, and my daughters help each other learn.

We left Syria because of the lack of everything. We could not find anything anymore. No food, no bread, nothing. No more gas nor oil. Everything was lacking. We did not have enough money to buy the things we needed because everything became too expensive. The situation there was very miserable. We were running away from everyone no matter if it was Al-Nusra, ISIS, the Free Syrian Army. All these factions were present there and they were all after you, so we had to flee. At first we stayed in someone’s tent in Tamnin for 5 months until we regulated our papers and bought a tent to move in.

Out of my 5 single girls 4 work a day or 2 a week depending on the work availability and the fifth one cannot. She became Hemiplegic after a car accident in Syria. They work to bring us some bread. Our situation here is better because we do not worry that we will be hit by a bullet or killed by someone, but we are struggling with things related to our residency and its renewal. Every 6 months we need to renew it. To do so we have to pay 200 US dollars per person and we are asked for papers and a Lebanese citizen to sponsor us as well. There is no one to sponsor us here. The land we live on costs money. We manage somehow; We get by. Back in Syria there was nothing at all. No work, just… nothing.