Fatima’s Red Jacket: Warmth during Winter and War

30 September 2020

Latter-day Saint Charities and ShelterBox USA work together to help those who are internally displaced. 

Seven-year-old Fatima lives with her mother, great-grandmother, and siblings in a displacement camp in Idlib, Syria. Life for Fatima hasn’t always been as vibrant and warm as the new red jacket she received makes her feel. Unfortunately, Fatima’s older sister was killed by an airstrike, and her family has moved many times since leaving their home because of the ongoing war.

The conflict has forced Fatima and her family out of their home and into a tent. Living in a tent in a displacement camp is hard any time of year, but the cold winter months from November 2019 through March 2020 brought additional challenges. Fatima’s mother, Samira, talked to ShelterBox about the hardships she and her family encountered.

She said, “Winter here is harsh and cold, and people suffer because of it. There is no support for us to get blankets or anything to help us. If I want to bathe my children, it is difficult because I am afraid of diseases. There are also difficulties cleaning and washing because of the cold water. For example, when children go to school or out of the tent, they come back very dirty. The situation here is very miserable, and we do not let the children out because of the cold.”

Winter is even more challenging for the elderly. Fatima’s great-grandmother was sick throughout the winter and needs long-term care, but there are no medical facilities available for Fatima’s family. The ground at the camp is muddy in wintertime, so Fatima’s great-grandmother cannot walk on it.

Fatima’s family and others continue to face their challenges to the best of their ability while working to sustain their livelihoods. Latter-day Saint Charities and ShelterBox helped during these cold months by supplying winter shelter kits. Fatima’s family received carpets, blankets, and other items that protect them from cold and disease. A few weeks after distributing the shelter and children’s winter clothing, ShelterBox asked Fatima, Samira, and Fatima’s great-grandmother about the items they received.

Samira shared:

“The aid from ShelterBox was excellent and helped us a lot. My children have clothes, and we got a lot of useful items. We did not have enough materials, and now we have carpets and mattresses to sleep on. When we left our homes, we could not bring much with us. The blankets give us and our children warmth in the winter. The lamps are useful because we have no electricity, and they help us go outside the tent at night. We also benefitted from the kitchen set, as it contains dishes, spoons, and other things. The tarpaulin protects the tent from rain and wind. There are old people who do not have anything to protect them from the cold, like my grandmother. Now they will not have to borrow things from neighbors to keep them warm, and their situation is better. The aid was excellent. Thank you.”

When asked if she liked her new clothes, Fatima said, “Yes! I love them. Especially the jacket. It is red and new.” Fatima now plays outside with other children, enjoying the warmth of her new winter clothes.

Fatima (right) with her mother Samira (center) and her great-grandmother. Fatima is wearing her new red jacket. ©ShelterBox USA