A Cave Saved His Life. And Now That Cave Sustains It.

Before 2011, Diban tended his flocks under the blue skies of the Syrian countryside. He was a shepherd. A man who guided his flocks to fertile pastures. A practitioner of one of the world’s oldest and most time-honored professions.

Then war came, and it wasn’t safe to be a shepherd anymore. And on top of watching his home and community break apart around him, Diban found himself without a job, unable to be the provider for his wife and 8 children.

Anyone who has ever lost a job they’ve counted on for sustenance or identity can easily understand how that feels. But imagine also, that while you’re trying to pick yourself and your family up from this fall, your world is being shattered by bombs.

Finding a way to feed your family is a matter of life and death on so many levels. You’re losing friends and neighbors—the integral parts of home—through the staccato dread of gunfire.

Related: War Unmakes the World Long After the Fighting is Done

What would you do?

Diban stayed.

He sent his family away to shelter in safer cities around Syria, and then he dug in.


Diban hollowed out a cave near his home to hide in during the shelling.

That cave saved his life. And now, that cave is sustaining it.

Diban (left) and our country representative Michel (left), holding samples of Diban’s crop. Photo by Jen Meyerson/Preemptive Love

Poetically, the hollowed ground that sheltered Diban from war is now where his farm is flourishing. After taking the training course for mushroom growing that you made possible for farming families in Syria, Diban started his oyster mushroom farm. His very first harvest yielded 30 pounds—quite a few more than expected—and sold out fast, too. It was a sensational beginning.

Related: You Gave Zakia the Chance to Change Her Life

Farming is so much more than food, more than business. Farming is going to bring Diban’s family home.

He dreams of nothing more than having his wife and all of their children under the same roof again. Too many other Syrians find themselves in the same position because war has robbed them of everything.

Jessica Courtney, Preemptive Love’s co-founder, holding a bag of mushrooms from one of the farmers in Syria. Photo by Michel Tannous/Preemptive Love

Home—a space of belonging, safety, and togetherness for the family, enfolded by the many other homes of the community—is the foundation our collective futures spring from.

Farmers like Diban need help to make their land flourish again — so their families can come home and start building their futures again.

Ending war starts with rebuilding home. Give today and help farmers remake home.