Syrian refugees: Friendship in the face of war
Rania (age 36), Hana (32) and Ghosoun (41) used to meet every day back in Homs in Syria to gossip about the things they wanted to buy, what they would wear for a party and upcoming weddings. Now their daily conversations revolve around sharing news of the latest casualties of loved ones back in Syria and how to manage the myriad problems they face as refugees in Jordan.
When war broke out in Syria nearly five years ago, the friends, even though they all lived in the same area, were quickly separated from each other by the blockades and barriers that appeared across the city. As the bombing and fighting increased, the three women were displaced across Syria in different directions and lost contact.
One by one, starting with Ghosoun, they decided to make their way across the border into Jordan. As they did so they all found temporary refuge in a school in the capital Amman that the landlord had given to Syrian refugees as accommodation. Here, by chance and fate, the friends of 10 years found each other again.
Their lives now couldn’t be more different
Although they are living only next door to Syria, their lives in Jordan couldn’t be more different. Their husbands, who worked as construction workers and a butcher back in Syria, are now unemployed because, as refugees, they don’t have the right to work in the country. This leaves them with so much time on their hands to think about the pressures and stresses facing them. Some, like Hana’s husband, do work informally; risking the penalties if caught by the authorities.
The women, also unable to work, now spend most of their time together watching the news for information from inside Syria. Hana says:
Now we are always watching the news to see if it gets better and we can go back. We hope and pray it will get better, but then we see the news and it is full of blood and death.
Like the majority of Syrian refugees in the region, the women and their families decided to try to make a life in the city – much more similar to their lives in Homs than the refugee camps. But urban living poses its own, and very real, daily challenges. The biggest one is paying the rent on their apartments without being able to earn an income to do so.
Despite these difficulties none of the women want to move again. “The journey was so bad from Syria to here I could not repeat it again,” says Hana. “We were sleeping outside in the dirt and as we were walking we saw the dead in front of us.” She adds:
You pass bodies and people killing each other in front of you because they want water and there is no water. You literally have to walk over the bodies and the streams of blood and fire.
They are all still traumatised by the things they saw on this journey and it has taken a long time for them to feel safe again. As Ghosoun says, “When we first got to Jordan and heard airplanes or fireworks we were screaming and scared.”
Rania, who has recently been assessed to receive CARE’s emergency cash assistance of approximately US $183, has participated in different psychosocial and recreational activities held at CARE’s safe spaces in Amman. She reminisces from time to time with her friends about their lives before the fighting started. But when they do, it seems like a distant dream. She said:
Our lives have changed 100 per cent. We had a home and a car and my husband was working. Here in Jordan we have nothing at all.
She adds: “I miss the subjects we talked about before. Now we talk about ‘you know who died or was injured last week?’...”
By Lucy Beck, CARE’s emergency response specialist – media and communications.
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