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Finding hope amid tragedy

Cash assistance is a lifeline for Syrian refugees

Thursday February 11, 2016

Nadia cooking with her grandmother, Wafa, in their small basement apartment in Jordan. Photo: Anita Dullard/Australian Red Cross

In many ways, Nadia is like any other 14-year-old. She plans to study and travel when she finishes school, and she wants to save enough money to buy a car.

Yet she is clinging on to her dreams for the future despite them being shattered time and again.

Nadia has seen and experienced things that no young girl should ever have to. During the conflict in Syria, three of her uncles were captured and tortured, only one survived. She still has a video on her phone of the lifeless, wounded body of one of her uncles, when he was returned to her family.

Three years ago Nadia, along with her grandparents Gayath and Wafa, and her surviving uncle Mohammad, fled their home in Damascus for the safety of Jordan. They escaped the fighting but Nadia says life is still really tough.

Most of all, Nadia misses her twin brother, who still lives in Syria with another uncle. Her father passed away three years before they left Syria. Nadia's mother has remarried in Jordan, though can't afford to care for her or pay for school.

Now, Nadia and her grandparents are completely reliant on her 20-years-old uncle Mohammad, to be the sole breadwinner for the family. His job pays 44 Jordanian Dinar a week ($88 Australian dollars), which is far from enough to cover all the essentials of rent, electricity, food, water, and medical fees.

Nadia's grandfather, Gayath, an electrician for more than 30 years, can hardly believe how their world has been turned upside down by the conflict in Syria.

"Before, we had a business and a house and employees. Now we have nothing. No one accepts me to work. I can't work freely, it's not allowed," he says.

Nadia's family has been receiving 50 dinar a month ($25 Australian dollars per week) since May 2015, which helps to pay for the basics. Cash assistance, distributed by Jordan Red Crescent, and supported by Australian Red Cross, is a lifeline that is bringing relief to thousands of Syrian refugees.

"Without the payment and Mohammad's job we have nothing. At least now we can buy clothes for school and food," says Wafa.

While Nadia looks forward to the day when she can start studying at university to become a doctor and help others, her greatest wish is for her family to be reunited one day.

"I'm not always able to talk with my brother, because there is not always electricity in Syria. It depends on the situation," she explains.

"I dream to be with him, and for him to be able to see our mother."

Can you help families live in safety? Please make a tax-deductible donation to the Syria Crisis Appeal.

Some names have been changed for privacy purposes.