When the bombs fell Hind, 41, sought shelter in a basement. She realized she could not stand it anylonger. In January 2016 she fled Damascus. This is her story .
In less than a second, my street had become a war zone. It was a bomb, dropped on a building very close to my home. Missiles hit, and people ran in panic down the streets along with the regime soldiers who fled their checkpoints. While I ran, I saw lifeless bodies lying around me. I sought shelter in the basement of a store, where I waited with some other people for four hours until the missiles were silent. Then we all went our different ways.
Sometimes I spent a whole day in a queue to get a bottle of petroleum gas, diesel for the car, or bread to eat. Life got so expensive.
Despite the bombs being dropped over my city, I had patiently waited for the war to end. I had endured much to continue living my life as usual under the crazy circumstances that were. I could walk for four hours to shop for food and visit my family. There was no electricity so I – a journalist – could no longer follow the news.
There was barely any water to drink or wash with, no oil to heat the apartment. Sometimes I spent a whole day in a queue to get a bottle of petroleum gas, diesel for the car, or bread to eat. Life got so expensive.
Snipers were everywhere. When we went out by foot, bombing could take place only a few kilometres away. We were totally powerless, but we relied on God.
The safety was lost in my hometown, I could no longer go out in the evenings. No one could sleep or rest because the night lit up by the glow of bombs that struck. Hours were filled with the sound of alarms, ambulances, fire trucks or explosions. The smell of gunpowder, poison gas and chemicals was spread by the wind. We closed windows and doors. We stayed at home, it became our prison.
But if you can’t go to work, you can’t put food on the table. Therefore I only slept for one or two hours, sometimes not at all, and went to work after having my morning coffee. I ate some breakfast to cope with the long walk to work. The bus was not there anymore, it was impossible because of all the military checkpoints. Snipers were everywhere. When we went out by foot, bombing could take place only a few kilometres away. We were utterly powerless, but we relied on God.
Despite all this, we continued to live our lives in the hope that the war would end. But when I sat in that basement and took shelter from the bombs on my street, I realized I could not stand it anylonger. Maybe I was going to die, and no one would care. Every person sings their own praises, I had no choice but to flee.
The whole time, I feared that they would only see us as bodies with organs that could be sold as spare parts to the highest bidder.
The trip across the sea is the hardest thing I've done in my life. When we put the life jackets on it felt like we were putting our fates in the hands of death, but we did it for life. We were in the claws of the smugglers, and they moved us around like we were commodities. The whole time, I feared that they would only see us as bodies with organs that could be sold as spare parts to the highest bidder. But we clung tightly to hope, to our faith in God to help us get to safety. The trip showed me just how weak man is – no matter how strong you are. But it also made me understand the meaning of true faith, what it is to surrender in God's hands and trust that he will choose justly. That he is the only one who will never abandon you during hard trials.
I left in January, in March the journey was over. When I arrived in Sweden, it felt like finding an oasis when lost in the desert. Like dropping anchor in a safe place when you travelled across the ocean. I was like a lost child who found his mother, who is so happy to have found her that he forgets everything he's been through. I expected security and found it. I was excited to see the magical Swedish nature – and God, how beautiful it is. With snow in the winter, it could not be more beautiful. Kind-hearted people met us with smiles and love.
I just wish the waiting time to get an interview time with the Migration Agency would be a little shorter, and that the Government removed the temporary residence permits. Then we would be able to continue our lives in safety, as the refugees from other countries who came before us have done – it should be our right. I want to continue my studies in business, media or healthcare. Really anything I get the chance to study. In the future, I want to work in media – television or radio. Before I left Syria, I worked as the host of a radio channel and the editor of a magazine.
Today I live as inherent in Gothenburg while I’m waiting to know about my residence permit. I risk being thrown out at any time. I don’t feel good here. The room is small, and we share the kitchen and bathroom. I can’t have my friends over. I think it’s important to learn the language and begin to study or work, but there is no TV or internet here, so I haven’t been able to continue my studies online.
I remember how I would wake up at four o'clock every morning by the chirping of birds, just to go up and pray a morning prayer.
I sometimes think about how life was before. I lived in a well-organized and lovely apartment with three bedrooms, a living room, a large kitchen, a bathroom and a courtyard. I remember how I would wake up at four o'clock every morning by the chirping of birds, just to go up and pray a morning prayer. After a breakfast of dates and biscuits and a cup of coffee, I would put on my best clothes and shoes, and go to work. At three o'clock I took the bus home, I showered and had a meal. I spent many evenings at home, watching television or following the situation in my country on the internet. Then I went to bed, with the hope of a better day.
Here in Sweden I have gotten to know the streets where I live, I can walk around by myself and meet friends. I don’t feel like a stranger, and I have a great life – like I'm in my homeland. As the war in Syria will go on, I will hopefully build up a new life, a new future. I don’t think I will return.
But when the war is over, I will go back as a visitor. I will walk around on streets that are thousands of years old, and smell the scent of jasmine again.