Marwa is from Aleppo in Syria.
The country’s largest city, and one that has suffered greatly in power struggles between the regime and rebel forces. At the time of writing the sole supply route to the regime-held areas of the city has been cut off by an ISIS advance, leaving hundreds of thousands stranded with the price of basic goods sky rocketing.
Marwa’s father, sister and extended family are the city, suffering the day to day “hell” of existence there. She, however, lives in Scotland with her husband and children. She was here when the war broke out, working as a teaching fellow at a Scottish university.
Any semblance of Arabic speaking skills I have can in part be credited to her.
I spoke to her thinking I would weave her answers into blog post about her perspective on the struggle of being Syrian outside of Syria. But listening to her discuss Syria with such passion and insight I decided to let her words speak for themselves.
I took our conversation and split it into topics, each one follows on from the last. I would advise listening to all and in order.
This is Marwa’s story.
ON WHO SHE IS
“I went back to Syria twice since 2007, the last time was 2011 when the revolution was starting there. That was the last time I saw Aleppo and Syria.”
ON WANTING TO BE THERE
“I wanted so badly to be there but then it started going bad. People started being arrested and tortured and killed in prisons. And I still wanted to be there.”
ON THE REFUGEE CRISIS
“People are not concerned with what really is happening on the ground. They are more concerned with the “refugee crisis” as they call it.”
ON GIVING UP ON THE NEWS
“I felt like I am living in a deceptive world.”
“I still remember every single street.”
“I know that oil has been a curse on some parts of the Arab world but the lack of it for other parts seems to be a greater curse.”
ON HOW TO MAKE PEOPLE RELATE
“People are struggling to get their daily bread.”
ON SYRIANS COMING TO EUROPE
“No mother would ever risk the life of her child unless she was already living in hell.”
ON HOW EUROPEANS SEE REFUGEES
“[People] see them coming to the countries to take their money, to live on benefits.”
ON CONTACTING HER FAMILY
“[My sister] said yesterday there were around seven bombs from airplanes.”
ON WHY HER FAMILY STAYS IN SYRIA
“‘I’m 74 years old I’ve lived all my life in Syria where do you want me to go to?'”
ON THE DEAD AS NUMBERS
“What kind of relationship was it between that sniper and my nephew to kill him? What gave him the justification to end a man’s life?”
ON AYLAN KURDI
“I can’t understand why one single little baby gets the world’s attention when hundreds of thousands of little ones don’t get any.”
ON THE WORLD WATCHING
“No one is doing anything to stop that misery and suffering.”
ON A NO-FLY AND A SAFE HAVEN
“The Syrian regime forces, they owned the sky.”
“No-one feels safe anywhere in the world.”
ON WHAT YOU CAN DO TO HELP
“If anyone can help these two charities (Edinburgh Direct Aid and Hand in Hand for Syria) by donating anything, warm winter clothes or money to buy any sort of fuel or food for the people that would be great .”