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He left his son in Lebanon, then found his mother and wife dead

by Cara Taylor with Sevan Ishkhan

In Lebanon these days, there is one Syrian for every four citizens, which doesn’t help the delicate economic and sectarian balance of the small country. Unless that one Syrian is Mardig, a young man quietly putting diapers on the elderly or nursing them after surgery.

aleppo-housingWhen Mardig first walked into the Jinishian office, he did not look the part. He was covered in tattoos and had no possessions at all, no home and nothing to eat. Only when answering routine job placement questions did his hardened exterior crack.

“If I had judged him on appearance, I would never have sent him to work,” reflected Jinishian social worker Sevan Ishkhan. “When I asked his marital status and number of kids, it was heartbreaking to see tears falling down his face.”

For the last six years of Syria’s war, Mardig had placed his young son in school at the Armenian Orthodox monastery in Bikfaya, Lebanon, for safety, while he remained in Syria with his wife and mother.

“One day he came to visit his son,” Sevan recounted. “When he returned home, he found his mother and wife dead under the fallen walls of his house. He said, ‘Imagine losing the two most valuable people on the same day—your birth-giver and your son’s birth-giver.’”

Sevan began sending Mardig out to care for the elderly. “He is now a great nursing caregiver working in our community.”

She is proud to see the young man, once so desperate, earning a living and beginning to recover: “He was blinded by life, but through the employment office we were able to let him see the beautiful sun every morning, again and again.”

Mardig is one in a million Syrian refugees in Lebanon. Jinishian serves hundreds of them each year (in addition to thousands of local beneficiaries). In a time when so much is being taken away from families in the Middle East, know this: the more you give, the more we can help, and the more they give back.

Client name has been changed to protect his privacy.

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