The news is dominated today by news of a conference in London where 70 nations are coming together to discuss #SupportSyrians. What needs to happen to not only stop the civil war in Syria but how we can all help the Syrians displaced and the host communities now breaking under the burden of looking after the migrants.
Six hundred and ninety thousand Syrian refugees are currently in Jordan, the country I visited last month. And whilst many are in host communities, tens of thousands are in refugee camps. Thirty thousand are at Al Azraq, the camp we visited. That is roughly the same size as the town I live in.
Except unlike Fleet, Al Azraq has no running water and no electricity. The only light after dusk is from solar power lamps and when they run out, or don’t get charged due to it being overcast, well the camp is in darkness.
There are two toilets at the end of each row of shelters. Water is carried to homes from standpipes each day.
It’s no way to live. No way to bring up a family.
Yet thousands are. Thousands have to. Women arrive pregnant and give birth in these camps. Twelve babies are born each week in the Azraq hospital. I am guessing each week refugees die. I didn’t like to ask what happens to the bodies.
One family we visited were still consumed with grief for grandma who had died in November. Grandma who had been pushed in her wheelchair from their home in Homs, Syria, to Jordan to live her final days in a refugee camp. Not only is this a horrendous way to live but how is that any way to die? Pulled away from all you know to a country you don’t.
Her wheelchair now remains between the shelters, a poignant reminder of a loved elder relative and used each day to make the burden of carrying water slightly easier as it is loaded up and pushed. God knows how over the rough roads, but used it is. There are no other reminders. There will be no grave. No belongings. No momentoes or photographs. It is then that it hits you what it must have been like to flee in the middle of the night with just the things you can carry. The items you have to leave behind.
Maybe in the hope that one day you can return and claim them perhaps?
Thank God they won’t have seen this then
Not the opening scenes of a Hollywood blockbuster but drone footage shot by a Russian TV company and shared by Channel 4 News on Facebook this week. It stopped me in my tracks and made me weep. We talked to people from this city. People who were at college here, working here, living their lives. And who want to go back there, seeing their time in Jordan as temporary because it isn’t home.
My dad shared with me this news article yesterday, entitled “When I Grow Up” it shows a number of female Syrian refugees dressed to do their dream jobs. Their dreams of doing those jobs one day, very much alive
It reminded me of Anwar, a super bright 13 year old we met at Al Azraq (her brothers were the gorgeous footballers I shared in an earlier post). Anwar dreams of being a lawyer. Studying is all she wants to do. After helping her mum prepare breakfast every day she attends school from 8 until 12 and when classes have finished she helps her teacher prepare lessons for the next day and then goes to help friends who may be struggling with their lessons. All she wants to do is study and read and the thing that annoys her the most is when it gets dark and she can no longer read in the evenings.
All she wants is to go home and to be a lawyer. But her home no longer exists. The city she calls home is destroyed. Her friends and family are no longer there either. Her best friend and her family made it to Azraq but just the day before we arrived had finally been accepted into Canada. So whilst happy for her friend it is another person she has lost.
In reality all Anwar now has are her dreams for the future
It’s these dreams that we have to remember as these politicians sit around their tables today and negotiate and decide what to do. Or not to do. These children and their parents are real people being worn down by a regime that has taken their homes and the livelihoods away.
Please let’s not now take their dreams for the future too.