November 12 2012

Hiding between oven and refrigerator

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
Aysha with her son Amjad © Carole Alfarah
Aysha (42) is married to Sawaf who has lost both legs due to diabetes. They have one son, Amjad (12).

Sawaf used to work as a driver for a private company, but eight years ago he lost his legs - and so his job. But the family could manage the daily life from the father's retirement salary of 13,000 Syrian pounds a month.

Aysha says: "We always thank God for everything. We didn't live a great life before but we could survive decently. The situation became so bad in Babela where we live because the so-called free army took strategic places amongst the civilians. I didn't send my son to school the previous year, fearing any random bullets, and the free army has taken over many of the public schools in Babela. Recently we did not have electricity or water. We went through a real nightmare when the fights started between the free army and the Syrian army.

My husband is sick and disabled and I have to support him and give him his medicines. Many days passed and I couldn't leave home. There were days we didn't have anything to eat at home. More than a week ago, we lived a horrible night. I didn't think we were going to survive it. Shells were falling everywhere in front of our house. We hid in the kitchen and I was so scared, I couldn't stand it and started to cry and to scream. Shells could fall on our house at any second. In the early morning, when the fights ceased for a while, I ran away from our house with my son.

I couldn't take my husband so we left him at home. But the next day, his brother went and saved him and now he is living together with his brothers' family and I am living with another family. We are no longer one family! I move with my son almost every second day from one relative's house to the other. The problem is that none of them has financial capacities.

I don't know what to do. I dream that peace will come back one day, only peace. I wish our house will stay there and it won't be destroyed. I want to go back home and continue with our old routine. To take care for my husband and my son, they are my life. I miss my coffee in the early morning, I don't know if this will ever be back again."