November 8 2012

"Fear is the trademark of our daily life"

How Syrian families try to survive - By Carole Alfarah

People in Syria are losing their jobs, their homes, their hope. Many did not live a life in wealth, but they were able to live a life in peace despite being poor. Now this is gone. What remains for many is the traditional strength of their family ties. Four families, who are being helped by SOS Children's Villages, tell how radically the war has changed their lives and views. Their stories were written down and documented in pictures by Syrian photographer Carole Alfarah.

Photo: Carole Alfarah
Mohamed with three of his children © Carole Alfarah
"Fear is the trademark of our daily life"

Mohamed (46) and Amani (31) have four children: Rama (14), Lana (11), Shahed (6) and Zakaraia (4).

Today, Mohamed is unemployed. He worked in an embroidery workshop in Damascus - and lost his job following the war in Syria.

"For six months now I have had no job. My family recently escaped from our home in Babela [in the countryside of Damascus; editor]. Every day there was shooting and random shelling. One night, when the fighting was very near, I hid my family in the bathroom. All night, we lay down on the floor full of fear. As a father, my duty is to protect my family and to provide them with care and support, but how can I reassure and comfort? I did not know what to do in this situation. Absolute horror.

But the worst was the huge explosion in the Kazaz area a few months ago. My daughters were in school that day and their school is located in the neighbourhood of Kazaz. For the rest of my life I will never forget the moment of the explosion, the sound was so strong. When I read in the news that it took place in Kazaz, all what came into my mind was: Rama and Lana, my daughters! I left home, ran towards the school screaming, 'Please God, protect my daughters!' Since that day my daughters fear going to school. Today we live with the family of my wife in the Naher Aysheh area and it is not a secure area either, but we don't have any other choice. Everything is unknown and uncertain. Fear is the trademark of our daily lives. I can't send my daughters to school, I am too worried. We used to live in peace, we never needed anyone's support. We had a great blessing and now we've lost it all."

Lana, the eleven-year-old, says: "I love going to school but none of my friends wants to go there because of the explosions, even my sister, she is often very scared. I want to go back home, it is the only place where I feel comfortable."