A Memory That Remains

My name is Kawthar. I visited the shrines of the Imams with my family
one year. We walked around the market and I saw a beautiful red
hairclip. It was the most beautiful thing in the shop. I asked my mum if I
could buy it — but I already knew the answer. It was 3,500 dinars — that amount could feed our entire family for a day. The following morning, when I woke up I saw the red hairclip on my pillow. I couldn’t believe it! My dad had bought it for me and I wore it everywhere. When he passed away, I stopped wearing it I was too scared it would break, and with it, my memories of him would be crushed. I’ll wear it for you today so you can take a photo — but please be careful with it. When my father died, I was 4 years old.


A Father And Son

My name is Haider Al Karrar. My father loved dressing me up like him. In 2011, he bought us two matching suits for Eid and we had our photos taken at a studio. The following year, my dad once again bought us matching suits so we could continue our tradition. But he died before we had the chance to have our photo taken. Our unworn suits were left hanging in the cupboard.

Recently, my mother donated them to a young, less fortunate groom-to-be. It felt good to help someone else in need, just as Al-Ayn has been helping us. My father may be gone, but my memories of him are still alive — we have this photograph hanging up in our home.


The Eldest of The Family

I worry about my younger siblings. I am 17 and the eldest. Last year in the run-up to Eid, I could not sleep. It would be our first Eid without our father and I did not know how we could cope. As you know, people usually buy new clothes for Eid. I didn’t care about myself, but I did not know how I would buy new clothes for my siblings, as I was struggling to get work and I didn’t have savings.

I didn’t want them to feel different from their friends or to be pitied as orphans. We received an invitation from Al-Ayn to their office a few weeks before Eid. When we arrived, we saw rooms full of new clothes
and shoes. My siblings were so excited — they ran around and chose whatever they liked. At that moment. I couldn’t contain my tears. For the first time. I felt someone was looking out for us. It almost felt like we had our father back. It isn’t easy being the eldest.


Meet Asinat

My name is Asinat and my little sister’s name is Asan. When the conflict
began, I was 2 and she was 1. I had to flee, but the conflict spread to
the place we had escaped to, and my father was killed. His corpse was
left for days before we saw it. We couldn’t afford a funeral — we couldn’t
even afford food and I remember going 4 or 5 days without eating. 40
days after my father’s burial, we were on the move again. I have found
photographs of my father’s corpse in my mother’s wardrobe. Now I am 7
and we are settled in a safer place. I don’t go hungry anymore and my
mother has everything she needs to look after us — she says it’s because of Al-Ayn.

I want to be a policewoman, so I can ensure no one gets killed unjustly.
Sometimes I feel he is still alive. One day, I dreamt about my father — I ran
to my mother in the middle of the night and told her that he wants to see us.
It makes me sad when I see other children with their fathers.


The Love of a Mother

I never imagined I could be this strong. I have two children named
Ruqayya (pictured) and Dunya, and before my husband died I looked
after them and didn’t do too much outside the house. I never really
imagined life without him and didn’t think that one day I would do all the work myself. But now he is gone, I am their father and their mother. I miss him. When he passed away, I couldn’t help but cry every day. But then I made a decision – to be strong for my children. I play with them and try my best to smile. I have a soft heart. but I need to be strong. It’s not only the children who are faced with loss when they are orphaned. It’s the wife and the mother too. I am grateful for the support of Al-Ayn not only have they given me the resources my family needs to survive, they have given me a community and friends. I look forward to going to the office every month to collect financial aid because we have workshops on important life skills and I can meet new people and make friends.


Those Who Have Not Seen The Light

I run the distribution room at Al-Ayn. I serve up to 150 widowed mothers every day. Each woman takes a ticket and waits for her turn to be called to a private booth where she collects her monthly aid and is asked about the physical and mental health of her children. On this day, the distribution room was full of mothers with young babies. These mothers had lost their husbands when they were pregnant. Many of them are still very young in their early twenties even. In Arabic, children who are orphaned as fetuses are called ‘those who have not seen the light’.

They may not have met their fathers, but we will care for them till we see them shine.