Syria. From empty plates to full dreams: Samer and Um Alaa reclaim their future
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11-03-2024 | di COOPI

Syria. From empty plates to full dreams: Samer and Um Alaa reclaim their future

The lives of Samer and Um Alaa families were overwhelmed by the outbreak of the armed conflict in Syria. Today, however, thanks to COOPI-Cooperazione Internazionale's project "Provision of life-saving and sustaining assistance and supporting self-reliance of affected households in Aleppo and Dara governorates” funded by the UN Coordination for Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), they can once again face the future with hope.

Samer used to lead a quiet life together with her mother, her farmer husband and their five daughters. They lived in a beautiful rural house in the village of Enjara, located in Daret Ezza district on the outskirts of Aleppo city. With the outbreak of the conflict, Samer lost her husband and home, remaining without any source of income. Having extreme difficulty in providing for her family's basic needs, she was forced to pull her children out of school, move into a small room with her children and mother, and sell some of her possessions in order to afford food.

Similarly to Samer, Um Alaa was also affected by the Syrian crisis. After losing her father and husband in the conflict, she faced extremely difficult living conditions. Her six children had to drop out of school and work in a mechanic shop in the village in exchange for a small amount of money.

In March 2023, however, COOPI began, thanks to the UN Coordination for Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), to implement a food intervention in Attarib and Daret Ezza districts in several villages, including Orum Al-Kubra where Samer and Um Alaa families live. The intervention began by conducting targeted discussion sessions, followed by field visits to register affected households and assess their eligibility for food voucher services. At the same time, an assessment was conducted on the effectiveness of the market and commercial stores able to contract with the organization to distribute food stamps in the area.

Thanks to the initiative, Samer and Um Alaa were able to meet their families' food needs again. Like them, several other families received food vouchers with a flexible list of essential food items to choose from and information on suitable stores. After eight rounds of food vouchers, COOPI conducted follow-up visits to measure beneficiary satisfaction and assess the impact on families' lives.

Samer and Um Alaa's children are back in school, have enough food, and can feel safer. In fact, the project has not only provided families with food assistance, but has also reduced the risk of school dropout, exploitation, and harassment. Samer and Um Alaa now live a more dignified life, with a new confidence in their own future and that of their children.

COOPI has been working in Syria since 2016 and is present in the areas of rural Damascus, Dara'a, Hama, Homs, Raqqa, Lattakia, and Aleppo with projectsin protection, education, food assistance, and support for family-based agricultural production. These were complemented by earthquake response activities with own, private and institutional funds.