Working in a factory in a conflict-affected area of Damascus, Mowafaq Ali Kassem, 34, grew accustomed to the sounds of clashes and the thuds of mortars. The long, hard hours he put in at the factory were vital for the care of his wife and five children, including a young son with Hodgkin's lymphoma, a cancer of the lymph tissue. Things were difficult enough even before 22 October 2013, when the conflict truly hit home.
Two of Mowafaq's daughters - 5-year-old Aya and 18-year-old Maram - were on their way home from school in Jaramana when they were hit by mortar rounds. The devastating physical wounds Aya suffered in that instant have not only changed the whole family’s life, but also exposed the incredible and terrifying vulnerability families like this face, all across the conflict-ridden areas of Syria.
"I never thought any of my children or my family members could be a victim or get hurt," Mowafaq says. "I cannot describe how I feel. I feel helpless."
All photographs © Carole Alfarah/UNRWA Archives