Born and raised in Australia but Syria is the place were 90% of my family still live.
It Was Once A Dream
After 10 years separation from Syria, we decided it was time to reconnect. The area we travelled to and stayed is Jaramana, located just 20 minutes from Syria’s capital city Damascus. It is currently considered safe despite the fact that 3 years ago it had been targeted by a record of over 7000 missiles. Luckily, close calls aside, my families home survived the destructions.
Others weren’t that lucky.
We were all aware of the inherent risk of travelling into regions with such instability. This year we realised we had to take our opportunity to see my grandmother who’s last wish was to see us.
Syria here we come.
After a few weeks the excitement abated and I begun to recognise what it means to live in a place defined by a constant state of conflict. Living here has shown me how comfortable, how stable, how sheltered our life is in Australia.
Here, basic necessities become a luxury. Every moment is defined by struggle, and the knowledge that you have no power over your unpredictable surroundings.
Electricity is unreliable. There have been days here were it has come on for 15 minutes after being cut for 7 hours. For one week the entire city had no water supply. No matter your wealth, status or influence, you were as thirsty as your neighbour and there was nothing you could to do gain access.
Syria’s Young Men
The young men in the region are left with no alternative but to flee their own country. They are either conscripted to the army as soon as they become adults, or they can delay their service until after they complete their studies. The reality however is that they must serve if they choose to remain here, so they choose to leave — they take the chance that it will give them a better chance of survival.
Grateful Is An Understatement
The more time I spent in Syria the more grateful I became for the privileged lives we live in Australia.
Despite the inherent negativity that come with a country still in a very real and serious Civil War. There is a lot of beauty that my 6 weeks here allowed me to experience.
There was barely any electricity, so families gathered every night together so that they would not be alone. Internet was scarce, so instead of being glued to our phones and computers we sang and we danced, we told jokes and we laughed. We took the time to remember my incredible Grandpa who passed away and we cried…then we remembered his funny moments and laughed some more. Experiencing very human emotions at the highest of levels. Levels which are near impossible to reach in day to day life so distracted by the many things that consume our time.
When supplies run out I saw how neighbours helped each other, sharing whatever extra they had. Knowing that in a time like this everyone is vulnerable no matter how well prepared they may think they are. I met a man who spent a huge part of his savings on 900 litres of Diesel so that his family can stay warm in the winter.
Thieves stole every last drop before he used any of it.
With that said
I’d like to say to all our parents and students. Strive to fulfil your potential and take advantage of every opportunity that arises before you. I have seen children on the streets with cigarettes in their hands acting like grown men because they have been forced to adjust to the environment around them. Maybe they never even had the chance to enter a classroom, to learn or to make the connections that we take for granted as part of our everyday. We have the privilege to be educated in this country, it would be a shame to throw that away when their is someone else out there, just like you and me, who would leave their family, home and all their possessions just to be in your position.
What I have seen on this trip has motivated me to invest myself even further in LGT and the principles we were founded on.
Until next time.