about the author
Public Information Officer - Cairo
Reem Nada joined the World Food Programme in early 2009 after a ten-year journalism career working for print and radio in Egypt and the Middle East.
As Feryal waited at a WFP distribution point, she managed a smile for her two daughters, Nour and Batoul. But the mother was clearly still in shock over what had happened to her family since her husband’s death a few weeks ago in their Syrian hometown of Daraa. She is just one of the people WFP is helping at Zaatari refugee camp.
Zaatari Camp, Al Mafraq, JORDAN – “Our house was hit by a rocket and my husband died right away,” says Feryal, a seamstress in her early thirties, who worked at home to help her husband who was also a tailor. She decided to leave after she buried her husband. “We all tried to stay strong, to bear the bombardment, the shelling and the rocket attacks, but there was nowhere safe anymore, even underground shelters were not safe,” she says.
Nour, 6, and Batoul, 4, were in another room with their mother when their father died. They might be too young to understand the weight of it all but they know they do not have a house anymore. They hear their mother’s story and hang on to her for comfort. They do remember a perilous journey they had to undertake on foot with their mother, all the way to the Syrian border with Jordan.
“We walked in fear in the heart of the night, knowing that some people died taking the very same route,” says Feryal. “It is a dangerous, unpaved road and in the dark you do not see much or hear anything except bomb shelling and your children saying they are in pain as they walk distances their young bodies cannot cope with.”
Feryal is not alone in Zaatari. She has her elderly mother as well as her brother and his family. Her older brother stayed in Daraa with his wife and children. She also lost a brother in the fighting. “He was brought home in pieces,” she says.
Feryal’s mother breaks into tears whenever she remembers the sight of her son’s mangled body. It is an image that haunts her waking and sleeping hours alike.
“If we have no homes left, if we build a tent where our house once was, we would stay there, in our country,” Feryal’s mother says. “But I hope there’s no more war, this is what I hope for.”
Feryal and her family are among the more than 25,000 Syrian refugees who are receiving WFP food assistance at the Zaatari camp. Their two-week ration will keep them going until they can go back to their homes and rebuild their lives.