Well-being & hope through cash assistance to Syrian refugees in Lebanon: 
Ayman, a musical talent lost and found

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“If you ever lose hope, trust music to find it for you.”
These words perfectly describe the story of Ayman, a talented oud player who was forced to flee Syria during the war. His experience of hardships only reinforced his belief in the power of music.
Ayman rests in his chair with the oud — a stringed musical instrument prominent in Arab music — sitting in his lap. It seems like a perfect fit between Ayman’s hands. He holds the neck of the oud in his left hand and wraps his right arm to carry the base of the strings. With the movement of his fingers, music begins to flow, telling his story along the way.
Ayman graduated from the Higher Institute of Dramatic Arts in Damascus, an institution founded by academics and considered a symbol of prestige in Syrian cultural life. Inspired by his grandmother’s wonderful singing voice, Ayman studied music, wrote lyrics, and composed songs. He later joined the syndicate of artists and was a member of the national orchestra.

But in 2012, nothing was the same. When the conflict erupted in Syria, Ayman’s only concern was to protect his family and curb their panic. Together with his wife and three children, they fled to Lebanon with nothing to comfort them.
During these turbulent times and experiences, Ayman had a thousand and one unanswered questions in his mind.
“I still remember every moment of fear and anxiety that kept me numb and sleepless. I had no idea where to start. It was a dark tunnel, and I felt lost.”
With the solidarity of the World Food Programme (WFP), the European Union (EU) and other donors toward Syrian refugees and those suffering from the multiple crises in Lebanon, Ayman found a ray of light at the end of the tunnel. Being eligible for monthly cash assistance, he was able to secure basic food needs for the whole family. He could buy basics like bread, rice, dairy products, and some proteins to sustain a healthy living for his growing children.

The cash assistance Ayman benefited from relieved his uncertainty and allowed him to tune into the world of music. He was inspired to turn his oud into an act of love. In the settlements for Syrian refugees, he started to gather a crowd of children around him every time he played music. They would clap, sing, and dance, as they memorized the songs Ayman played for them. Sometimes, he would spot talents among the children and train them to play music and even perform together at small concerts.
“Having my basic food needs secured largely influenced my will to go on. It pushed me to contribute to others, especially kids, who are to me, the most innocent hearts music can touch. The positive feelings that this assistance was able to introduce into my life taught me an important lesson about hunger. We might not acknowledge it that way, but hunger is a draining struggle we face daily. Now, I know that we can overcome it by serving hope.”

WFP, with the support of the European Union and other donors, is providing unrestricted, multipurpose cash assistance for food and essential needs to 234,000 Syrian refugees in Lebanon. Eligible Syrian refugees receive an e-card to redeem cash on a monthly basis at ATMs. With this layer of financial security, some are actively contributing back to their communities in multiple ways to empower each other.