Previously I have noted that some of the muhajireen ('migrants'- i.e. foreigners who have come to the insurgent side in Syria) have been involved in running businesses. Others are involved in education efforts. One example is the Lulu Wal Marjaan Nursery in Idlib, in which a muhajira ('female migrant') is involved though the staff are Syrians displaced from other parts of the country. One 10 March 2020 I interviewed the muhajira about the nursery.
Note that the interview is slightly edited for clarity and any parenthetical insertions in square brackets are my own.
Q: Are you a muhajira to al-Sham [Syria]?
A: I am the only muhajira that has involvement with the rawda [kindergarten/nursery]. I lived in Syria long before the revolution and returned after the mass displacements. All our staff are Syrian naziheen [displaced people] from other areas of Syria. The people of Syria were very hospitable to me in my time of living in Syria before the thowra [revolution], so I came back to help them in their time of need.
Q: So when was the nursery established?
A: Lulu-Wal-Marjaan was established in March 2016 as a parent and children community project. Mothers would attend the centre with their children under the age of 5 and the nursery staff would teach both the mothers and the children how to learn through play.
Q: Where are you based in Idlib?
A: We are based close to the Turkish-Syrian border and mainly have children who are refugees from in Syria or those from families who are affected by the war like children who have lost parents or other family members in the war. When we began we had equipment and resources sent from outside of Syria as sadaqa [alms]. We also had a sponsor. However we no longer have sponsorship so we now charge a fee for children and if we are given any sadaqa that will help also.
Q: Why was the sponsorship lost?
A: Because Syria is seen as a country of terrorists. This is due to two reasons. The main reason is that the our countries do not see Bashar Assad as a terrorist and also because of Daeesh [Islamic State group].
Q: How are issues of resources for the nursery like electricity and water? Has the situation gotten worse and for what reasons?
A: The prices of things have got much more expensive and because of this we have to try to fund-raise by having bazaars. The parents and staff make food and give their old things they no longer need to the nursery to sell.
Q: So how do you get electricity for the nursery? Are you using solar panels?
A: The electricity is solar panels. And also we have some hours electricity with the rawda premise.
Q: Are there more children in the nursery now because of the displacements?
A: Every year we increase the number of children because the demand gets higher. We began with 50 children we now have 90 children allahuma barek [Allah/God bless]. Most staff and children are internally displaced people. As we would like to give them more help as they have no family or contacts in these areas, so they are the first priority over the people of this town.
Q: How do you view the general future of the northwest region of Syria?
A: We have tawaqal [reliance] in Allah that there will be khair [good] for the people who have seen much oppression. Allah knows best what will happen who will take control..but we know that the people here do not want Bashar to rule over them and will do anything to escape this.
Q: How can Muslims support the nursery?
A: The best way that people can support the nursery is if they know of any charities or people that are willing to sponsor the nursery or to give us sadaqa so that we can continue to help those who don't have much money to pay fees. Also our staff work much of their time voluntarily so if anyone would be willing to help provide them with wages or gifts this would be very appreciated . Also if anyone would like to send resources and teaching equipment through containers or from Turkey that would also help us continue to help the children of Syria receive education and social interaction opportunities.
We currently rent our premises. However if there was a possibility for a charity to give us a building or to build a purpose built venue this would also increase the longevity of the project and reduce costs. And we ask all to make dua [prayers] that Allah places baraka [blessing] in our efforts and accepts from us this small initiative and that we can continue to help those who are suffering.