A refugee asks “What have Syrians done to their homeland?”

Dreams of returning home to Syria

Publication info

Posted
3/15/17
By
Mahmoud Shabeeb, Communications Officer for the Syria crisis

“Immediately before we fled Syria, the cost of living increased gravely. But that was not even the main reason we left. I feared for my daughters. Syria was no longer safe. There were many kidnappings and home invasions nearby. Anyone could kidnap, rape, or harm any woman. That is what happens when there is chaos, no law is valid anymore.”

Hiam, 45, fled her home in Daraa four years ago with her five daughters. They came directly to Irbid in the north of Jordan where they still live. Three of her daughters are married now and live with their spouses. “My husband and I were divorced before the conflict. He has another family and another life. I also have a son who lives in Azraq camp with his family.”

Hiam does not know who exactly they had to flee from. “Fighting intensified all around us. There were militants and fighters all around the city. We had to run away but did not know who we were running from. There was indiscriminate bombing everywhere.” Hiam’s family members were scattered. “My siblings are still in Daraa alongside my parents, so is my daughter and her husband and children. I have a sister who went to Germany. We are all dispersed now. What good has this war done us? Nothing! We were living peacefully and had a good life in Syria. Now we hear all the horrific stories of our neighbors, relatives, and acquaintances. Every house has someone who has been killed, kidnapped, detained, or displaced. We did not have any stakes in this conflict from the beginning. What have Syrians done to their homeland?!”

Apart from United Nations food vouchers, Hiam receives little assistance and struggles to make ends meet. CARE supports her with emergency cash assistance and she is enrolled in CARE’s vocational training. “I am excited to start cooking classes because it is my only source of income. I make different kinds of food and appetizers depending on the season, and I sell to neighbors or people who ask me to cook or prepare certain kinds of Syrian appetizers. Being the head of the household is difficult as I am the sole breadwinner, and as their mother I also worry about their future. I have to raise my daughters properly on my own, and it is exhausting.” Hiam’s daughters miss their father and complain about not having him in their life. “The absence of their father left a huge void in my daughters’ lives. They often ask about him, but there is no communication between them, which adds to our burden. However, our main problem is financial. For example, my daughters are good at school but they struggle at mathematics and English, and I cannot afford private tutoring. I want them to improve in their studies but at the same time I can’t help them.”

Hiam’s daughter, Fatima, 13, participated in CARE’s #MakeWordsMatter video, calling for increased support for Syrians and an end to the conflict now entering its seventh year.  Fatima shares memories from the home which she misses. “I remember our home in Syria, and I long for it the most. I had all my memories there. I also remember my friends, often after school, we would play outside. Now I don’t know anything about them except for two girls from my neighborhood who came to Jordan and stayed in Azraq camp. They have returned to Syria with their families. Luckily I met by coincidence with two girls who went to the same school as me in Syria. We go to the same school here.”

Fatima dreams about finishing her education and returning to Syria. “I want to become a pharmacist. My aunts were pharmacists and nurses in Syria before the war, they helped cure people and take care of them. I want to do the same. I wish for the war in Syria to end so that I can return home and finish my education and become a pharmacist there.” Hiam is passionate about her daughters’ education, and hopes they can fulfill their dreams. “I did not have the chance to finish my education because my father did not allow me. I want my daughters to pursue their education to make up for my lost dream and have a good life. Thankfully they are passionate about their education.”

Despite the difficult situation that Hiam and her family are living through, they are not considering third country resettlement outside of Jordan. They only wish to return home to Syria. “When we first arrived we struggled so much. We stayed with Jordanian relatives near Irbid until we were able to rent this apartment. Four months ago UNHCR contacted us for resettlement in Canada, but I rejected it immediately. Although life is not easy here, we, Syrians and Jordanians, are the same people. We share the same culture, language, traditions, and religion. We understand each other. We found support from Jordanians, but I don’t know if we would find the same support and understanding abroad. I love Jordan and I used to come often to visit my relatives before the war. It is important for us to remain physically near to Syria because, one day, eventually, the war will end and we will return home. Although every year we have been saying that the war will end that year or the next. It still looks so far from the end. But we have hope and we believe that it will end - one day.”

 

Fatima, 13,  has been living with her mother Hiam and her sister in Irbid, Jordan, for four years. (Mahmoud Shabeeb/CARE)

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