In the early afternoon, pickup trucks drive up the informal settlements, stopping at each one and dropping off the children. Some of the girls jumped off a truck, running to their makeshift homes and giggling like they’ve just come from a day at school.
Fatima, a 25-year-old refugee from a village near Aleppo, supports her three children, her elderly parents and her four younger siblings by working the fields for 4 dollars a day in the Bekaa. She takes along her 14-year-old mentally challenged cousin to help.
That money helps cover the annual rent of $530 for the shack they live in near Zahleh.
“I am ashamed of taking handouts and when I work, I feel like a slave,” Fatima said. “People shout orders at me and I listen to them because if I don’t, they will take the tools away and won’t take us on the truck the next day.”