It’s not every day that a woman works as a farmhand and tractor driver in Lebanon, but that’s exactly what Nuhad El-Barqa does.
When El-Barqa’s daughter was only 15 days old, her husband was presumably kidnapped. He is one of the thousands that have vanished during the conflict in Syria.
“We always did things together,” she says. “He used to deliver the goods while I took care of the shop.”
After her husband disappeared, El-Barqa was afraid for her children’s safety. The city of Al-Qusayr, where she used to live, was under fire constantly. As more and more roads were closed, she stopped being able to get milk for her baby, as well. El-Barqa, alone and with two kids to take care of, left for Lebanon, where her brother lived.
“It was a journey we made under fire, shelling, and so on,” she says.
Today, El-Barqa lives with her family in Bekaa Valley. They are part of the 1.5 million Syrian refugees living in the country’s informal camps.
As a single mom, El-Barqa says she had to find a job that would let her support her family.
When she first inquired about working as a tractor driver, she recalled the farmers saying to her, “A woman wants to do our job?”
El-Barqa’s answer was firm: “If a woman can drive a car, what is the difference between a car and a tractor?”