“My Heart Breaks for the Mothers living in the Camp” that is the response of one of the refugee women as ARDD-Legal Aid handed out flowers and sweets in celebration of Mother’s Day in Zaatari Camp. It’s March 21st, 2013 Mother’s Day in the Middle East. Phone lines are busy, gifts are given, and flowers are sold on this day but the Mothers in Zaatari Camp are not celebrating, rather they are reminiscing on their lost, imprisoned, or martyr children. Um Mohammad accepted her flower with an overwhelming sigh as she explained about the imprisonment of her 28 year old son who remains in Syria. Ever since his capture Um Mohammad has no idea about his whereabouts and on this day she says “I just long to hear his voice, and that would be enough.” While her children surrounded her and she smelled her flower and smirked, she couldn’t completely express her feeling of happiness or comfort since half of her heart still lies in Syria.
In the old part of the camp as flowers and sweets for the mothers were being distributed and the frowns turned into smiles, baby Bayan only 20 days old was crying of hunger. Her father was holding her trying to keep her patient as they search the camp for a bottle, since she is breastfed, because the girl’s mother left in the wee hours of the morning to take her other daughter to the hospital. Seven hours later she still had not returned. Bayan’s mother is spending her day in long hours in the dreadful heat, and long lines to provide care for her child. Even on this day, she cannot rest as responsibility is calling.
Mother’s Day in Zaatari camp is not about getting pampered or relaxing, or being flooded with gifts; rather daily work is calling. Women are waiting for the water to arrive so they can wash the dishes and their laundry. Women are taking care of their sick kids, husbands, and truly being the strength in their tents.
At the end of the day, regardless of their daily struggle, the smiles on their faces were priceless as they thanked Voice and ARDD-Legal Aid for remembering them today. Husbands smiled at their women, with pride in their mind and kids were given flowers to give their mothers.
As the last flower was given by Aghyad, nine years old, to his mom a woman passed by and said, “May God rest the soul of our dead sons, may God return to us our lost sons, and may God allow our sons to grow old, healthy, and happy, and that is all that we ask.”