Fleeing Syria’s brutal civil war, over one million people have sought safety in Lebanon – where refugees now represent a quarter of the population. Dorcas is working to empower women and girls – who seek to support each other in a new reality.
“When the war broke out, lots of girls were abducted. I could no longer walk outside on the street.”
On the run
Asmaa was 16 years old when her life changed completely. “When the war broke out, lots of girls were abducted. My school in Syria closed its doors – and I could no longer walk outside on the street”, she says.
Many parents – fearing for their daughters’ safety – arranged for them to marry at an extremely young age. But Asmaa’s family chose a different approach. “It was my brother’s idea”, she recalls. “He told us to leave the country.”
Five years later, Asmaa is a regular volunteer at the Dorcas Community Centre in Batroun, Lebanon. Here she helps vulnerable refugees seek support. “I try to reach the women that people don’t see. The girls that find themselves alone in this world.” “My story can help other Syrian ladies”, she says. Ï find them and encourage them to come to the centre. A safe haven where they can rest and get help.”
When she arrived in Batroun, Asmaa struggled to adjust. But, surrounded by a close-knit community at the centre, she’s hopeful for the future. “When i was young, my dream was to become a psychologist. But it’s hard to do even the smallest things as a refugee. Now I dream of children, my own family; and how I would teach and protect them.”
“Education is important, but so are strong morals. My children must learn to respect others – regardless of where they come from or what colour skin they have.”
A fresh outlook
“My mum and dad have changed their views on marriage. They are more on guard when a man proposes to me now. Where is he from? What does he do?”, Asmaa laughs. “Which means I’m allowed to meet him and consider a life with him.”
Dorcas operates two Community Centres in Lebanon, one in Batroun and another in Aley District. In 2018 we supported 1072 vulnerable people at the Batroun Centre by providing practical care and psychosocial sessions.
29 April 2019