Syrian refugee Mohamad Naasan, 42 (left), and Lebanese farmer Elias Daisy, 63 (right), from the town of Deddeh near Tripoli in northern Lebanon, are participating in LWR greenhouse project.

Greenhouses unite Syrian refugees & Lebanese farmers

  • John Rivera
  • Nov 30, 2018

The war in Syria forced Mouhamad El Sheli and his family to flee their bombed-out home in Homs into life as refugees in neighboring Lebanon.

“We moved here with no job … meaning we didn’t have anything,” says the 28-year-old father of three young children. “I worked any job, olive picking, construction, any job so we can survive.”

Mouhamad El Sheli fled from Homs, Syria to northern Lebanon

The influx of more than 1 million Syrians into Lebanon, a country of just 4 million people that is roughly the size of Connecticut, has raised tensions with the increasing competition for jobs and scarce resources. Syrian refugees in Lebanon don’t live in large camps, but are integrated in local communities, creating greater economic impact.

Thanks to your compassion and generosity, Mouhamad and his new Lebanese neighbor have developed an incredible partnership that is producing income and friendship — all by way of a greenhouse.




Here’s how the partnership works: Greenhouses fashioned out of clear plastic stretched over steel tubing are erected on the property of a Lebanese farmer — with the proviso of a partnership with a Syrian refugee. Through our local partner, LebRelief, they receive training in growing techniques and are benefitting from a market analysis that is helping them to grow the most profitable crops.

The upside for the Syrian refugees is obvious, but the Lebanese farmers benefit as well. Many small farms tucked in this hilly area near Tripoli have been passed down for generations and are no longer productive as their owners have lost interest and expertise in agriculture.

Mouhamad is working with 54-year-old Omar Kassem al Ayoubi. He said he has struggled with his farm and appreciates the assistance he’s receiving. And he is grateful for the help of his neighbor and new friend.

Syrian refugee Mouhamad El Sheli, left, with Lebanese farmer Omar Kassem al Ayoubi, right.

And there is another advantage to the partnership: Mouhamad is an experienced farmer, like many of his fellow Syrian refugees who often have more agricultural expertise than their Lebanese counterparts.

“There was some fear of the Syrians at first, because they were coming and might be a burden for us in our country,” says Omar. “When we worked with them in the fields, we saw that they really have experience. They tell you this is right, this is wrong, there is pride in their work.”


Lebanese farmer Omar Kassem al Ayoubi, left, on his farm.

Lebanese farmer Elias Daisy, 63, is looking forward to growing and selling vegetables the entire year. “This will improve our productivity, because the vegetables that don’t normally exist in winter will exist with greenhouses,” he says.

And Elias’ partnership with Syrian refugee Mohamad Naasan, a 42-year-old father of two, has the added dimension of bridging a religious divide that has long bedeviled Lebanon. Elias is Christian and Mohamad, like most Syrian refugees, is Muslim. But that is of no consequence.

“I don’t discriminate between Lebanese and Syrian, we are all family,” Elias says.

Mohamad echoes the feeling. “He and I are like brothers,” he says.

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Photos by Brian J. Clark


Syrian refugee Mohamad Naasan/

John Rivera, Nov 30, 2018 email