On the waiting list for cash assistance, Aisha and her family are running out of time.
Aisha’s rent in Jordan isn’t much by Australian standards, but it’s a struggle to pay her landlord 120 JOD ($242) every month. Since the beginning of the pandemic, she and her husband, Imad, along with their two young children, have been evicted twice due to defaulting on their payments; she is desperate to prevent it happening again.
“I worry about being thrown out on the streets,” says the 32-year-old. “We reduced the number of meals to save up a little, and only buy the necessities.”
Her hope is that she’ll finally be accepted into the UNHCR’s monthly cash assistance program. Aisha and Imad have been on the waiting list since February this year, but there are more families needing support than funds available. While 33,000 families in Jordan receive cash assistance each month, 12,000 remain on the waiting list. UNHCR’s program in Jordan are only 29 per cent funded.
Job opportunities for Syrian refugees, such as Aisha and Imad, are scarce, due to Jordan’s difficult economic circumstances and restrictions on the sectors in which refugees can work. Although he is a university-educated mathematics teacher, Imad earns money by selling vegetables at an unauthorised roadside stall, doing his best with a disability that affects his hand. He is lucky if he brings home $10 a day.
The couple has accumulated $1,620 of debt, which is a constant worry – and a far cry from the comfortable future Aisha once envisaged for herself.
“We lived a very comfortable and stress-free life back in Homs,” she says. “My dream was to complete my university degree and start a career in educating the younger generation as a school teacher.”
Aisha managed to sit her final exams just as the war began, before fleeing with her family in 2013. Although she holds a Bachelor’s degree in special education, she hasn’t been able to find a job to help cover the family’s living expenses.
On top of the usual basic needs of a family of four, Aisha’s four-year-old son requires additional support for his autism, and Imad has ongoing medical costs arising from a slew of health conditions, mostly caused by his arrest and torture in Syria.
Donations to the Leading Women Fund provide vital cash assistance to Syrian refugee women like Aisha, giving them the dignity of deciding what they need for their family.
UNHCR research shows that monthly cash assistance reduces food insecurity, with 87 per cent of recipients spending cash assistance on food, and 83 per cent spending the funds on rent. Its impacts are long-term and far-ranging – refugees spend money with local businesses, which helps them to integrate into their new community, and the funds help reduce negative coping strategies such as skipping meals.
Aisha says cash assistance would help her family stand on their feet, pay off debts, and afford the necessary treatment for Imad and Mahmoud. Most importantly, she and Imad want to live with a little peace of mind and dignity, knowing that they will not be evicted again.
Join the Leading Women Fund to support women like Aisha.