Rebuilding lives through cash assistance:
Mohamad, a Syrian refugee tailor in Lebanon doing the extraordinary

Meet Mohamad, an ordinary tailor rising from his situation as a Syrian refugee and doing the extraordinary for others in Lebanon. Not only can he transform things with fabric, but since receiving the European Union-funded WFP cash assistance, he creates hope for fellow refugees. Here’s the story of Mohamad, a Syrian refugee and father, who was forced to flee home and find safety for his family.

Watch the Story

After loss comes a new opportunity

Mohamad’s story started in a north-eastern city in Syria’s Al-Hasakah governorate, where he enjoyed a decent life with his brothers, sisters, and mother.
“My father passed away when I was still young, and the family needed a breadwinner. I would work on construction sites to earn some money, but my mother hated the heavy weight this put on my frail shoulders. She insisted that I learn her profession as a tailor.”
With his mother’s encouragement, Mohamad learned the skills to become a tailor. At first, he would watch her work with fabric at home, but seeing his passion and talent, his mother suggested he train at a well-known tailor in Al Raqqa city. This was how Mohamad learned the skills he needed to start a small tailoring business.

Life takes a different twist

When the conflict in Syria began, life took a different twist. Mohamad had to leave his work, friends, and family to find refuge in Lebanon. Mohamad was not on his own. His wife, Zakeyye, pregnant with their baby, moved with him. They both worked hard — he was a construction worker and a tailor’s assistant, while she was an agricultural worker — and Mohamad saved enough money to buy a new sewing machine.
With the challenging conditions of settling in a tent and the shortage of basic needs, Mohamad’s fears, anxieties, and concerns about supporting his family increased.

Hope through EU-funded WFP cash assistance

However, he found hope in the future when he started receiving cash assistance through the World Food Programme (WFP) e-card funded by the European Union and other donors. Based on his family’s vulnerability, they were eligible for monthly multipurpose cash (MPC). The family receives an e-card, akin to a bank card, and they can use it to redeem cash at ATMs to purchase food or essential items. For a five-member Syrian family — Mohamad, his wife, and his three children, Ahmad (6), Yaqeen (5), and Manar (2) — this helps them afford basic meals, such as rice and beans.
In today’s Lebanon, this assistance is vital. The country has witnessed the worst food inflation globally in the first half of 2022 due to the accumulated impact of multiple crises. These include the country’s severe economic and banking sector collapse, the effects of COVID, and more recently, the Ukrainian crisis. Following the rising prices and inflation, the MPC assistance was increased in April 2022 to help refugees cope, as the local currency dropped by over 90%.

Giving back and empowering refugee women

Although Mohamad has become, by word of mouth, a renowned tailor among the refugee community, this cash assistance has spared Mohamad the overwhelming responsibility of ensuring the survival of his family as the sole breadwinner.
The story doesn’t end here. Now that his family’s basic food needs are more secure, Mohamad devotes time to giving back to his community and helping others. Knowing what it is like to worry daily about providing for a family, and with the assistance allowing him to focus on his work, he helps other refugee families recycle the clothes of elder children so that they fit their younger siblings. Not only that, but Mohamad trains refugee women to learn and earn a life of hope, just like him. This is in homage to his mother who had a priceless influence in his life.
“We create hope, especially when we cannot see it,” Mohamad says.
WFP, with the support of the European Union and other donors, is providing unrestricted, multipurpose cash assistance for food and essential needs. With this layer of financial security, some are actively contributing back to their communities in multiple ways to empower each other.