I only brought some photo albums with beautiful memories.

One year after the earthquake in Türkiye-Syria, people remain displaced. While humanitarian organisations, civil organisations, corporate and governmental donors joined forces to save as many lives as possible, rebuilding takes time. Affected Syrians found themselves displaced once more, living in a crisis within a crisis.

Madeleine Jumaa Shannan, 29 years old, a mother of five displaced from Sahl al-Ghab in Hama, recounts the difficult memories of the earthquake on February 6th 2023:

“We saw death with our own eyes, especially since we couldn’t quickly get out of the house. The door was closed, and we couldn’t find the key.”

Madeleine Jumaa Shannan

Since then, Shannan has not returned to her home in Jandaris in rural Aleppo as it suffered significant cracks and is no longer habitable. She has been living in the Free Shelter Camp near the Syrian-Turkish border, accommodating around 86 families affected by the earthquake.

“We went to our relatives’ house temporarily, but my son refused to sleep and was constantly scared that another earthquake might happen, until we were told that there was a camp prepared for those affected by the earthquake,” Shannan said. “I only brought some photo albums with beautiful memories”.

Photo: Ali Haj Suleiman

The Shannan family lives in a shelter in the camp, but being displaced once more makes living difficult, especially since her husband also lost his job in the earthquake as the factory he were working in was destroyed in the earthquake.

“My husband goes early in the morning in search of work to come back at the end of the day with just some bread,” Shannan said. “We burn plastic bags at night to provide warmth for our children before they sleep.”

Photo: Ali Haj Suleiman

Shannan believes that she will be happy again when she returns to her home and town, from which she has been displaced for six years, escaping the continuous shelling.

“I hope that the future for my children will be much better than what we are experiencing these days.”

Madeleine Jumaa Shannan

In February 2023, several strong earthquakes struck southern parts of Türkiye and the northwest region of Syria. Millions of people lost their homes and more than 55,000 people were killed. Better Shelter shipped over 6600 shelters to partners in the region within weeks, supported by the IKEA Foundation and other donors.