“A story of tragedy and hope.” A Syrian heroine replaces milk with tea to feed her children
Martial arts training helps to cope with difficult times. This is what a woman in Aleppo told the WFP Goodwill Ambassador, Canadian TV presenter George Strompolopoulos, during his visit to the country.
In a report published on the World Food Program website and the United Nations website, Strompolopoulos reflected on his visit to Syria and his meeting with the woman, whom he described as inspiring.
Syria rarely makes the headlines these days, at least not for the 12 million people who lack food after more than 11 years of conflict, more than half the population.
In September, he said, I went there to see for myself what life is like for people who have been struggling with merciless crises all this time.
I wanted to help shed light on the reality that the Syrian people go through every day, and that’s how I met Ghufran.
My visit to Ghufran’s house in the northern Syrian city of Aleppo was incredible. Her personality immediately fascinates you.
You could probably say that she had an aura that, although very modest, was present. And my intuition was not wrong, it turned out that she was a competitor in martial arts – a champion in taekwondo.
Ghufran grew up in a large and warm family. She had ten siblings: eight brothers and two sisters. At school, she excelled in athletics, and by the last grade, the career of her big dreams had begun.
“My close brother Louay was into martial arts,” says Ghofran. “It was through him that I first discovered my passion for taekwondo.”
And the announcer continued, Ghufrana’s face lights up when he talks about taekwondo! In her own words: “Taekwondo is not just an art. It teaches you morals, it teaches you patience and it teaches you determination.”
Eight years into her career, Ghufran is a mother of two, and her taekwondo record has grown to three national medals, one gold and two silver, but as she prepared to compete for the final level, black belt, her life took a tragic turn.
In 2011, a conflict broke out in Ghufrana’s neighborhood, claiming the lives of her husband and two of her brothers.
She was three months pregnant with her youngest son, Hamza, when she left everything behind and fled Aleppo with her children.
Ghufran left most of her belongings behind, but the one thing she made sure to take with her was a bag that kept all her taekwondo gear: her uniform, all the medals she’d won, and all the newspapers listing her achievements. Life pressures made her drop out of college, so she didn’t finish her education and get a certificate.
By 2016, the conflict had finally subsided in Aleppo, and Ghufran returned with her three children, only to find their home completely destroyed.
According to the broadcaster, luckily she had access to the apartment owned by her parents, who also fled the conflict, but it was also damaged. “It was uninhabitable. Its floors were covered in cement dust, the walls were damaged, it was ransacked and it had no windows or doors,” says Ghufran.
Since the apartment was the last ray of hope for her children, Forgiveness gathered her strength, rolled up her sleeves and got to work. “With my taekwondo record, I had the strength for the job,” she said proudly, “I repaired the walls with my own hands.”
To earn a living, Ghufran worked as a cleaner, cook and teacher, which together brought in enough money to live with her children.
But the economic crisis since last year has led to a dizzying jump in prices throughout the country. Ghufrana’s income could not make ends meet, so she turned to the World Food Program.
“In the beginning, I received a basket of food every month and it brought a lot of joy to my children,” she said. “But then I got the option of receiving a combination of food and financial aid, which was better because it allowed me to better diversify the food in their diet. “
Canada is the main donor to the World Food Program in Syria. This funding translates into monthly food aid for families like the Ghufran family. Canadian funds also provide school snacks in the most disadvantaged communities, where a simple date bar or fresh sandwich may be the only breakfast a child eats that day. In the city of Aleppo alone, the World Food Program feeds more than 30,000 children every day.
By way of analogy, if you are the breadwinner of a family of five in Syria with an average income, this amount can cover about a third of their monthly food needs.
Amid rising prices, Ghofrane had to learn some cooking methods. “I have to ration the food for my children, because if they eat freely, there won’t be enough food,” she said.
And when she cooks eggs, she mixes them with fried pieces of bread to enrich the meal. He tries to use cheese as much as possible, because he kneads it to prepare sandwiches for children.
“I’m replacing milk with tea,” Ghufran said sadly. “I know it’s a lot less nutritious, but I can’t afford to buy milk, and they need a drink to help them swallow their food. I’m bitter for them.”
Today, Ghufran continues to support his three children, as well as two of his nephews who lost their parents during the conflict. In a calm voice, she said, “I am thankful that my children are well. I will continue to support them until they reach the highest levels in their education. This is now my message in my life,” according to the report.
One of the highlights of my visit to Syria was meeting Ghufran and her children. Her strength and resilience in the face of so much tragedy is inspiring. And that’s just one story about the tragedies happening in Syria. WFP’s work is crucial there and everywhere .scientist”.