Y.I., 44, Assyrian, is living with his wife and three children, aged 14, 13, and 3.5. They arrived in Lebanon in 2014. He is the only provider for his family and used to fix refrigerators for a living. Due to the bad economic situation in Lebanon, he lost this job and is now working as a concierge at a building in Ashrafieh for 650,000 LBP ($450) per month. His wife is unemployed since she has to take care of her youngest child (age 3.5).Y.I. has no money to put his kids in school, even before the pandemic; and they can’t go back to their country since it is already destroyed.
“When the blast happened, we were in our small house consisting of one room, a kitchenette, and a small bathroom (not suitable for 5 people and has no personal space). No one was hurt physically, but we were mentally damaged. My youngest daughter can no longer tolerate small sounds ever since the blast; she gets scared and starts panicking that it might happen again. However, my other kid (age 14) quickly took shelter somewhere. The building was shaking and felt as if it was falling. No window remained in place; everything was shattered on the ground where my children used to play. We survived by chance. Nothing major happened to my house except for the damaged tv and shattered glass.”
Y.I. had to borrow a Lebanese ID from someone in his building to get a food basket from the Lebanese army. His daughter is in need of milk every 2-3 weeks, and he can’t afford it since its price is always escalating. For someone who gets paid 650,000 LL, it is very hard for him to pay the school fees let alone buy food from the grocery store.
He also gets food baskets from the Assyrian committee, but it is not enough since a lot of necessary items are missing from it.
This family is trying to survive this corrupt country. They are always in debt, since they are always buying the missing food they require without paying for it.
Like every father, he wants what’s best for his children – giving them the education he never obtained. He doesn’t want his kids to end up like him. His first priority is to get his kids enrolled in school even if he and his wife have to stay without food.
Y.I. thinks that he can never get over what happened as long as they are living here, which is normal since even the Lebanese people are doing their best to leave.
His children are traumatized, they think it’s going to happen again and no one can blame them. They witnessed the war back home, and when they came here, they thought it was going to be a better place.
For now, the most important thing for them is to leave to anywhere. This is what every Assyrian wants in order to continue to live peacefully, even if this means leaving to Afghanistan.