Mona: “We had no more savings to spend on either rent or food.”
I am standing on what was previously the family house of Mona and the business of her mother. This neighborhood was completely razed during the 2014 hostilities and is now being rebuilt. ‘I’m sorry I can only offer you a plastic chair’, Mona apologizes, ‘I’m sharing this floor with my brother’s family until the whole building is reconstructed. We currently can’t afford furniture.’
Mona quit school at the age of twelve to take care of her sick parents and her siblings. She had to learn how to manage the sheep and poultry breeding family business. ‘I grew up running around my mother who took such good care of our animals, without realizing that this business financially covered the whole family. Being put into my mother’s role when she became ill felt like a huge responsibility.’ Mona couldn’t have known that things were about to become even harder when the war started in 2014 and she would find herself as a 28-year-old responsible for a family of 5, but this time without a house, a business or a mother watching over her shoulder.
Shortly before their house was destroyed, Mona and her family moved in with relatives who lived in an area that was considered safer. When Mona found her complete neighborhood, including the family home, flattened to the ground right after the war, she decided to start renting a house. ‘After two months, and having sold most of my personal belongings, we had no more savings to spend on either rent or food. Cooking gas was very expensive, but food coupons kept us afloat.’ The family eventually decided to return to the rubble of their previous house and to live there in a plastic shack until the reconstruction started.
As a single woman and breadwinner of the family, Mona applied for Action Against Hunger’s program to kick start a business of her own and follow the footsteps of her mother, who had followed the footsteps of her grandmother. ‘The training courses showed me the importance of saving money to reinvest in my business and prepare for future emergencies’, Mona explains. ‘Things will start getting better soon, Insh’allah.’