Escaping Violence



Thu, 11 May 2017 - 09:56 GMT


Thu, 11 May 2017 - 09:56 GMT

 EPA — The destroyed neighborhood of Ansari, Syria

EPA — The destroyed neighborhood of Ansari, Syria

CAIRO -11 May 2017: I lost my nine-year-old son because I drove on a highway in a battlefield,” Sohaib begins. The 40-year-old father of four from Damascus recalls how he happened to be driving along a highway when he was caught in crossfire, with terrorist showering gunshots on every moving being. Sohaib caught a bullet in the leg and couldn’t drive, but despite the pain rushed to take cover. “I only cared about protecting my children, who were with me in the car. Before I knew it, my eldest was shot in the stomach. I saw his insides seep out of his little body,” he recalls.

As he veered into the dust, an officer at a checkpoint ran to help him and took him to a hospital. “This officer who helped me got shot two days later, Samer was his name,” Sohaib recalls. At the hospital, “militias tried to kidnap me, I don’t know why,” he says.

“Once the telephone rang, I knew I had lost one of my sons, I could feel something bad happened,” Sohaib’s wife recalls. “In Syria, no one knew the religion or the doctrine of the other, and no one cared,” she says. “All we know is that the war has torn us apart.”

Despite the destruction, Sohaib would choose to go back if the war ends. “I would forgive the death of my son, the bloodshed, but take me back home,” says Sohaib. “God granted me a son, and He took his soul back, I understand His will.”

Surviving Homs
“He who leaves home is lost, and whoever comes back is reborn,” says Hassan, describing life in his war-torn hometown of Homs. Hassan, who has spent the last four years of his life in Egypt, recalls how he faced the horror of walking down the streets with the fear of never coming back. He was injured three times in three different bombings, once in Homs and twice in Damascus. He used to work for the labor union in Syria and had to leave his family, home and source of living to save his life. Hassan was injured by shrapnel and gunshots, was jailed, moved from one city to another and from one hospital to another due to the lack medical facilities in his hometown at the time. “I couldn’t afford medical treatment in Lebanon either,” he recalls.

There was no electricity or water in Homs, and when asked how the community managed to stay alive in such abject poverty, Hassan answers with a single word: “solidarity.”

“My family’s apartment was on the last floor and we had to move to the first floor so that any airstrikes would not affect us on the upper floors,” he explains. They helped each other with gas pumps and exchanged basic goods until they ran out. They couldn’t get out to buy necessities and had no access to markets or main streets. “Men gathered in one of the apartments on the first floor and women in another. We never felt scared, instead we showed solidarity,” Hassan continues.

“I never know who’s responsible for the bombings, I just used to feel numb and thrown meters away every time. I watch people die and shattered bodies everywhere,” he says. “When I got hospitalized the first time after being injured, I used to entreat the doctors to tend to those who are in more dire condition, as the number of victims is usually huge.”

After fleeing to Egypt where he received the medical assistance, Hassan started making a living as an electrician. Like Sohaib he too says he would go back to Syria if he could. “I would love to reunite with my family members, I’m feeling grateful to the life I have in Egypt and the peace I feel here, but I would like to go back to my homeland. I pray for peace in Syria.”



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