More than a million refugees over half of them children – have been forced to flee violence in Syria and are in desperate of shelter, food and water. Caroline Gluck is currently working in Lebanon and Jordan, where Oxfam is helping Syrian families caught up in the refugee crisis:
Miriam hugged me and planted a kiss firmly on my cheeks, happy to find herself on safe soil. I was at the Jordanian border with Syria, as hundreds of refugees continued to cross to safety, many dodging bullets on the way.
She was clearly relieved, but like most refugees, 50 year-old Miriam’s decision to leave her country was a last resort. It came after she and her family had been forced to hide in the basement of a building after a round of heavy bombing. “Thank God we are all alive,” she told me. But while she and her children made it to safety, her husband, a farmer, refused to join them. “I begged him. He said he prefers to die in Syria. I feel my heart won’t be able to stand this, my husband not being with me.”
Every person I speak to in Jordan’s sprawling Zaatari refugee camp, officially home to more than 160,000 refugees, where Oxfam is installing water and sanitation facilities, has their own tale of struggle. It’s hard not to become emotionally affected by heart- wrenching stories like this; stories that literally involve life and death. I’ve been involved in documenting Oxfam’s emergency work for the past four years, travelling all over the world as we respond to different humanitarian crises.
One of the luxuries (or necessities) that I always carry in my bag is a travel yoga mat. Practising yoga helps me to find some quiet space and calmness in the most frenetic of times. It rebalances me and helps me to better manage the stress that piles up during emergency deployments, better able to deal with the new challenges that the next day will inevitably bring. The strong human spirit I see in people at times of crisis always amazes me and gives me more hope for the future.
Oxfam urgently needs more funds to help the thousands of people fleeing Syria every day.
You can donate to Oxfam’s Syria appeal: oxfam.org.uk/syria or call 0300 200 1999.