Here are three stories from inside Syria. Three of the many millions we will never hear.
Years of war have marked every single Syrian. Together with other Caritas-colleagues, we try to reach out to the most destitute and vulnerable. Most of the war-affected suffer in silence. But their stories need to be told and shared, if ever we want to know the ugly face of war and sense the urgency to put an end to suffering. Nessrine Achaer, a Caritas aid worker in Damascus: “As well as food and aid, people need to talk. Many are isolated.”
Sahib* was left paralyzed after a sniper’s bullet destroyed his spinal vertebrae when he crossed the street after curfew one night in Irbin. “I can’t feel anything from my abdomen to my toes,” Sahib says. “Thank God my hands are ok.”
With his family Sahib moved several times before reaching Damascus. Today they are living in overcrowded conditions in a cramped warehouse.
His mother Khadija* says it is a struggle to take care of her son. His father Rushdi* begins to cry as he says his son needs drugs, catheters and other medical services. “We don’t have any money at all,” he says. “We can’t afford travel expenses. Here we cannot treat him.”
Today they are living in overcrowded conditions in a cramped warehouse.
Both their sons-in-law were killed in the Syrian conflict and their daughters and eight grandchildren live with them in the warehouse. Salma*, the daughter with three children, was living in Babbila near Damascus when her husband disappeared. “My husband went out to get food and never came back. We heard he was kidnapped but we don’t have any idea where he is. It is four years since he disappeared.”
Caritas has provided the family with food assistance, clothing and blankets. “We can’t do it alone, we need help,” says Khadija.
The pain of losing a child
Hana* and her husband Farhan* suffered every parent’s worst nightmare. Their young son Ferran was killed when the school he attended with his twin brother was bombed in Damascus. “I ran there and found him on the ground. I held him, his eyes were open,” she recalls through waves of tears. She describes scenes of chaos and unspeakable pain as injured children were brought to the hospital. “There were children without legs, without fingers, children with open abdomens, it was really unbelievable.”
Despite the conflict our country is still the most beautiful country in the world.
“They took all the kids into the emergency room and disappeared. After about an hour I asked them ‘where is Ferran?’ They said ‘He was dead when you brought him here.’”
Hana and Farhan try to rebuild their lives with their surviving son. They have received support from Caritas. Farhan has had a hip replacement with funds provided by Caritas.
Hana cannot see a different life beyond the border of Syria. “This is our country. We will not give it away,” she says. “I can’t imagine myself buried in a country, away from my son.”
Her husband says: “Despite the conflict our country is still the most beautiful country in the world.”
Should we stay or should we go?
Abeer* and her seven children survived a mortar attack on their home in Hujara, but her daughter Zainab* was badly burned. “We couldn’t go out to treat her, we were under siege for a week to 10 days,” Abeer says. The family fled the outskirts of Damascus. “We left with only the clothes we were wearing. I left my husband behind. I left with the kids.”
But if I leave the country no-one will support my family.
“My husband had open heart surgery,“ she continues. “My son Mohamed is studying and he is the only one working and earning money.” Mohamed, 20, considered leaving Syria and find work in Turkey to support his family more in the future. “But if I leave the country no-one will support my family,” he says. “My dad said ‘I can’t live without you, if you travel my life will be useless’.”
Caritas has helped the family with medicines and creams for Zainab.
The outlook is bleak for the family. They are struggling to pay the rent and feed themselves. The schools are too far away for the children and Abeer says they have lost their desire to study.
(* names have been changed)
These stories were shared earlier on http://syria.caritas.org/