Stories

Memories from the Syrian crisis: Stories of Fear and Strength

“The day I got married marked the day that things started going south in Aleppo. In the same area where my wedding took place, we’ve suddenly heard bullets. We shut down the wedding immediately.”

 

Rami lived in Aleppo all his life, starting his journey with Medair as an Area Manager there about 4 years ago.

Just like Rami, anyone you ask within our team in Syria can cite at least one traumatic incident, something they can never forget, even if it happened years ago.

The crisis in Syria affected everyone. Everyone lost something or someone; no one was undamaged, no home was untouched. If you visit a house in Deir-ez-Zor, you will find a grandmother taking care of over five children, or a teenager working to provide for his mother and siblings because his father went missing through the crisis, or even seven families living in a single room. In Aleppo, or any other governorate, you will find a mother taking care of two disabled teenagers, or a father who can’t find a job and must take care of one sick child or two.

Unfortunately, the economic situation paralyzed people, many without basic needs, including water. Close to 90% of the population now live below the poverty line according to the Humanitarian Needs Overview issued in March 2021. They are further burdened by their memories of the traumas they experienced.

Despite this, everyone is trying to heal and move on. People go to work and live every day and challenge the difficulties no matter how suffocating.

 

 

Ola works as a cashier with Medair Syria. She shared a story from the past with us;

“I live in rural Damascus. To reach the university from where I live, I needed to cross a road that used to be called at the time ‘The road of death’. It’s a highway and there was a sniper; his job was to aim for a target and shoot randomly at the passing cars. One time, I was on my way in the car. For some reason, I turned my head to the right, in the same second a bullet passed touching the back of my head and blew behind me in the car. I realized in a moment that I was the target. The sniper was aiming for my head.”

Ola was telling us the story like it happened to someone else. Most people asked about their lives during the crisis look like they’re holding it together; like the memory is not theirs. You’ll listen to the stories and realize how strong people in Syria are.

“My senses were absent, and suddenly I heard people shouting my name. I went out of the car, looked at the door where I was sitting and saw how determined the sniper was on killing me because I was his random target.” Ola said.

Everyone has a story, each is different, but the narrative is the same. People have lost over ten years of their lives in an ongoing crisis, dealing with death and loss every day. We asked some of our teammates what they want to achieve as humanitarian workers, and what motivates them despite what they have experienced? These are some of their answers:

“After the crisis in Syria, a lot of projects and activities took place to help people who are in need. I felt the skills and knowledge I have in management can help these projects function on a higher level. I knew I can help.”   Rami told us.

 

 

While Alaa, our Senior Monitoring and Evaluation Officer, shared her reason for working in the humanitarian field:

“I was once in a field visit. We were going through the assessment process at the time. I entered a house, a place you would never imagine that someone is living in. There was a door that leads you to a very small room. In there, an old lady living by herself. Once she saw me, she said: “you are the first to reach my house. It’s enough for me that someone out there knows I’m still alive. Your visit is enough for me.” This filled my heart with love.”

“After everything we’ve lost, I didn’t want to stand and do nothing, I wanted to help those who need my help. It’s hard to know that something so simple as a blanket might be someone else’s dream. I knew I have the ability to stand by the people of my country, and that what keeps me going.” Said Alaa.

You do not know Syria unless you have visited it, seen its places and communicated with its people, that’s why our local team in Syria also has a message they want the world to know about the Syria they live in and the country they love.

 

 

Safwan is one of our HR and Admin officers, he told us: “Any crisis has its aftereffects, and I remember how different it was with shells everywhere and the danger we went through during the crisis, when we leave in the morning to our jobs not knowing if we’ll ever be back home or not. It was a hard time. But even with that, I was born in Syria, will die in Syria, and we will work together to rebuild this country like it was before.”

The words and phrases may differ from teammates, but one thing they all have in common is that Syria needs help. Communities in Syria are trying their best to hold on and defeat the daily challenges. We have been working in Syria since 2015. Medair works in various sectors including health, water and sanitation, and shelter. We also distribute non-food items to recently displaced people, or people who are returning and assistive devices for people living with mobility impairment.

 

You can support Medair’s work in Syria here.



In Syria, Medair’s work is made possible by the European Commission’s Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations, Swiss Development Cooperation (SDC), Swiss Solidarity, SlovakAid and generous private donors like you.

This content was produced with resources gathered by Medair field and headquarters staff. The views expressed herein are those solely of Medair and should not be taken, in any way, to reflect the official opinion of any other organization.