Deir-Ez-Zor: A glimpse of light
“When my Husband was alive, I did not need anything” said Rehab; a 37 year old mother who lost her husband and one of her three young sons during the crisis, adding while wiping the tears from her eyes “After his death, we were devastated by hunger and sorrow. We lost everything!”
Rehab is one of many residents in Deir-Ez-Zor who suffered from ongoing violence and hostilities in the governorate. Her small house in Al-Hamidyia area collapsed as a result of direct hits by mortars. The rubble of the house fell over her mother and broke her spine causing permanent paralysis in her lower limbs.
Rehab fled with her mother, sister and two young sons to Tab-Aljora; a relatively safer area in Deir-Ez-Zor, where she started to clean houses and wash carpets to provide basic needs to her family, but the income from this work was too low and her family was starving.
Deir-Ez-Zor is considered as one of the most affected governorates from the Syrian crisis. An estimated 57% of its population is in dire need for humanitarian aids. The number of Internally Displaced People (IDPs) is around 441,000.
To respond to the difficult conditions in Deir-Ez-Zor, UNDP implemented a solid waste removal project to provide emergency employment opportunities for IDPs and their host community members and help eliminating the risks of environmental pollution and the spread of epidemics and diseases as a result of accumulated waste piles on the streets.
Rehab joined the project three months ago. She is working eight hours per day and receiving a monthly wage that allows her to provide the basic needs of food and clothes to her family.
“At first I was hesitant, but after seeing other women with same conditions working with me I felt more encouraged to work in this project.” Said Rehab, adding “sometimes seeing the misfortunes of others can ease our woes”.
The solid waste removal initiative in Deir-Ez-Zor not only helped enhancing the livelihoods of affected people but also took further innovative dimension, where women volunteered and organized a team of female workers from different backgrounds (i.e. college students, women heading their households, IDPs, affected host community etc.).
The volunteers contributed to cleaning schools and shelters in selected areas. This introduced a cultural change that became accepted by the conservative community of Deir-Ez-Zor. The women volunteers contributed also to raising awareness campaigns targeting the IDPs and host community on the importance of cleanliness and hygiene for the creation of a better living environment.