Imagine you wake up in the morning, it’s a day just like every other.
Your kids are at school.
Your husband’s at work, he’s a driver.
You work through your daily chores. Life is good.
You hear the children outside laughing and squealing. They run in and give you a hug.
They sit down on the floor to play, their cartoons on the TV.
You ask them about their day. They love school, and they tell you about their many friends.
You begin to talk to them about their future. What do they aspire to be?
Doctors, lawyers, teachers, engineers? Your daughter wants to be a vet, and your son, a musician, he’s very talented.
Its approaching 6pm and you head into the kitchen to prepare them some dinner, Syrian cuisine is amazing.
You head over to the cooker and turn on the hob to heat the pan.
You chop the onions.
You hear a loud whistling sound getting closer and closer and then…..
A HUGE explosion.
Your front door blows off and your body is thrown through the air and across your kitchen.
The only thing that stops you is the wall.
You hit your head. Hard. You lay there motionless. A loud ringing sound fills your ears. The pain is excruciating.
You feel a warm touch on your hand. You hear a voice… your husband.
You open your eyes….you see tears glistening on his cheeks…he’s crying.
Where are you?
Where are your children?
An unfamiliar bed…
A handmade rocket exploded outside your house, your husband tells you. You don’t remember much. But your children…!?
‘They’re safe,’ he tells you.
You want to go home.
A few days later you are back home. You have a new front door. Your children are playing in the living room. You flinch every time you hear the whistling of the bullets outside your home. You try to go on as normal, but it’s difficult, you live in fear.
Your children are no longer able to attend school. It’s not safe.
They can’t go out to play either, they stay inside watching cartoons, but even those don’t make them laugh any more.
You fear for their future.
Your husband continues to work…
You fear for his life.
You haven’t left the house since that day, but you must go to the market, you need some supplies.
Your hands are shaking as you prepare to leave.
You walk quickly down the meandering streets and are about to cross the road when a neighbour runs over to stop you.
‘You can’t go this way,’ she says. ‘Snipers are covering the street. They are mowing down anyone in sight.’
You don’t know whether she meant government forces or rebels.
You don’t ask.
She shows you a safe route and you buy some groceries then proceed to hurry home.
As you cross the street you see a friend. Fatima….you were at school together.
She smiles and crosses the street towards you.
You hear a loud crack.
A bullet tears through her she falls to her knees…
You run home, screaming, sobbing…
Its not safe here anymore…your children are not safe…
You must leave Syria….
During my time in the field, these stories are told to me over and over again. This situation is all too common.
I don’t think people realise how many people are having to live like this, right now. Today.
Our approach with the people we work with is to always take the time, get to know them, make friends and build trust as we work to meet their needs in their new homes in Turkey, Greece, Jordan and France. As we do this, they open up, naturally, as our relationships deepen. Only then do they share, and only then do we understand, over and over again, the heartbreak, the pain, behind each individual story, each heroic journey, each determined, resilient pair of eyes.
Story by our amazing team member Dan who has both been working on the ground in Izmir for the last month, hearing many stories like this.
Photos by Sim and Olga