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It Is Time to Step Up and Help the Children of Syria

Essays and Interviews 22.1
Caryl Stern

During my visit to the Za’atari camp for Syrian refugees in northwest Jordan, I met so many families who had lost so much. I was particularly struck by the fact that before their country had imploded, their lifestyles had not been terribly different from my own. I met a man who had been an attorney. He had owned cars, laptops, and a house where his three children had separate bedrooms. Now, he, his wife, and their children are living in a tent with limited heating. Once comfortably middle class, they are now stuck in a place where women choose to urinate on the ground at night rather than walk alone in the dark to the communal latrine, out of fear that they will be targets of violence. This is a place where half the children have to walk barefoot in the snow because they have no shoes. The lawyer’s days are no longer spent in an office with air conditioning but are instead spent looking for firewood, carrying water, and getting accustomed to a place where there are no lights at night.