War in Syria forced Nader, age 53, and his family from their home. Now they live in a camp for internally displaced persons in northwest Syria near the Turkish border.
Nader — whose name has been changed to protect his privacy — is a father of eight children. He worked as a government employee and owned two houses and land. But the family had to leave it all behind to flee for safety.
Nader bought a piece of land in the camp where he could build a small shelter for his family. But the camp lacked adequate sanitation infrastructure — leading to deplorable conditions.
Most of the shelters in the camp are roofed with plastic sheeting, and the shelters regularly experienced damage from severe flooding during the winter months.
"The wastewater overflows from the houses to the road directly, hindering everyone’s movement and causing the spread of diseases and unpleasant odors,” Nader said.
But that all changed after CARE — with generous funding from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints — was able to complete a sewage rehabilitation project in the camp over a six-month period from August 2021 to January 2022. This improved living conditions for Nader’s family and thousands of other displaced Syrians.
"The situation has improved a lot, and there is no sewage running on the road," Nader said.
CARE is one of the largest and oldest humanitarian organizations working to fight poverty and improve living conditions around the world. Beginning in 1945, CARE was first established to help those who were facing hunger and needed emergency assistance after World War II.
Now the organization operates in more than 100 countries, promoting education, nutrition, food security, economic programs and agricultural support.
Dana Tseng, senior director of development for CARE USA, said emergency assistance continues to be a large focus of the organization, which pairs well with the Church’s humanitarian, welfare and self-reliance efforts.
“There are people in crisis everywhere due to conflict and war and natural disasters and so that is a big focus of our work in addition to kind of development programs that address the long-term causes of poverty,” Tseng said.
Tseng said CARE and the Church began working together in the mid-1980s. One of the first projects the Church supported through CARE was to provide emergency assistance in Ethiopia during a massive drought. Since then, the two organizations have worked together on many projects around the globe — many of them are emergency-focused projects providing humanitarian assistance to people in crisis.
“We’ve been really well matched as organizations who care about the dignity of people and addressing the most urgent needs around the world and making sure we give people an opportunity to thrive and live successful lives,” Tseng said.
CARE in Syria
Syria and nearby countries such as Lebanon and Turkey face an astronomical problem with refugees and people who have been displaced. CARE and the Church have worked together to support people in displaced camps or in displaced communities who face deplorable living conditions, like Nader and his family.
Tseng said it can be devastating to see and hear about the conditions people are living in with their children.
“Often just the lack of security, the lack of safety, lack of clean water, lack of latrines, especially for women and children to be able to use the bathroom safely and at night, lack of food and lack of opportunities,” she said.
“We’ve been working together to address some of those problems, and in northwest Syria, one of our recent projects really worked on trying to improve conditions by improving the sanitation and water in the camp where people were living.”
This ensured that the people not only had a safer environment and safer water to drink and access, but also that their living conditions were improved because they weren’t having to live with open sewers and unsafe conditions.
Nader hopes one day to return to his home and his land, but in the meantime, he is grateful for what he and his family have right now.
“I do not look for luxury but only want my family to live a decent life, even if it is within a camp,” he said.