Just in Time

Mohammad and his two daughters in their tent. Photo: LWF/Julia Tarpy

After the snowstorm on the 13th of January, LWF Jordan staff member Julia Tarpy went to Mafraq to visit families which had been given winterization items, check on their situation and to see how they were coping with the weather. This is an account of her observations and impressions..

MAFRAQ, Jordan/ Geneva, 15 January 2015

Last week a violent snowstorm hit the Middle East, increasing the misery of the over 9 million Syrians among IDPs and refugees who fled their homes since the outbreak of the Syrian civil war in March 2011.
"Huda" hit Jordan from Wednesday 7th January bringing snow, heavy rains, strong winds and freezing temperatures for the whole weekend. Jordan is currently hosting more than 622,000 Syrian refugees registered with UNHCR, the majority of whom are living in tents or in unfinished and unheated buildings. According to information from UNHCR, over 146,000 individuals or 37,321 families in total have been assisted in urban areas through winterization programs which include provision of gas heaters, cylinders and refills, and well as distribution of blankets and other non-food items. As part of the overall effort, LWF Jordan has distributed winter items (gas heaters, gas cylinders, cash for gas refills, blankets and carpets) to more than 2,000 vulnerable families, including Syrian refugees and local Jordanians in the Northern governorates of Irbid and Al Mafraq. For 1,251 households, the distributions took place in mid-December 2014, whereas the remaining 800 families were assisted over the last three days prior to the snowstorm, in early January. While the distribution had been planned in advance, it did indeed come at a timely moment!

Never a Complaint

Over the past two months and a half I have heard the saddest stories and saw in many eyes memories made of bombs and need. I have met children in flip-flops, and I cannot recount how many coughs I have heard, caused by living in shelters with leaking roofs and without proper heating.

Just after the snowstorm, on the 13th of January, LWF Jordan staff went to Mafraq to visit some families, check on their situation to know how they were coping with the freezing temperatures.

We met Mohammad and his family in their tent. They were wearing their jackets and sitting next to the gas heater they had received just two days before the storm. "The timing was perfect", Mohammed told us. He is Jordanian, and he takes care of the farm right behind their tent, earning 100 JD or about EURO 120 per month. Nevertheless, whenever he can, he helps the two Syrian families living in the neighborhood.

We visited these two families soon after; 15 people living in three tiny rooms. Since one of the rooms had been flooded during the storm due to the leaking roof, they had to share two rooms. Nevertheless, they were happy to have received the right items at the right time. Unfortunately, this fourth winter away from home does not seem to be the last one.

Contribution: Julia Tarpy, LWF Jordan

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this blog are those of the author, and not necessarily representative of Lutheran World Federation policy.