“Freedom is just a period between wars”

Freedom is something that is ordinary in our world but when you are out here, it’s completely different. In the past two days we have visited a few families who have fled Syria.

The women who we are here visiting. Photo by Idoia Andrea Carcamo.

Freedom and safety were no longer guaranteed for these families and they left everything behind. After many years of struggle, and living in uncertainty, these families now have a safer home in Jordan. But their lives are far from easy. Right now, they are struggling with poverty and are anxious for their future. What these families have in common is that they are extremely worried for the future of their children.

Our IWitness group counts 11 members. Four co-workers from the Netherlands, four co-workers from Spain and three co-workers from UNHCR. Every one of us had the chance to meet a Syrian family currently living in Amman. These people have fled their country and their belongings to find safety. You have to imagine that the new houses of these families are very small. Our group of 11 people would easily fill their entire room. Because of that, we were split in to two groups. These groups were mixed, so we had a few Dutch, a few Spanish and some people from UNHCR. In that way we ensured that we had different opinions and backgrounds. When the groups were made, we went to the families.

Michel and I were the only two from the Netherlands in our group. When we arrived, we were shocked by the situation. Of course, you know that you will see something that is completely different than that you are used to, but it was worse than we expected. We were dropped in a small alley. Somewhere down below in that alley we found a metal door that had some rust in the corners. Then the door opened and we saw a woman smiling at us. After a few minutes, everyone was inside, and we started the conversation.

The room was very small, and the complete house was not bigger than 20 square metres. You have to imagine that the room is almost completely empty. The only furniture was a cabinet that was old and damaged; there were no other items in the room except for some pillows.

We were in the home of a Syrian woman who fled the country with her three boys and one girl. At first there was an awkward tension in the room. We did not know what to say to her and she did not know what to say to us. But after a few seconds one of her children came in and said ‘hello’. From that moment, the tension was gone.

She told us about her situation in Amman. From my point of view, I thought people living in the city would be in better hands. But she told us that was not the case. She had a really hard time to survive. Her husband was killed in the war, so she was the only one who could work. Unfortunately, her children have different school hours, so she must stay at home the entire day. It is hard to imagine what she’s going through: she wants to do everything to make a better life, but she is just not in the right position to do so. Michel and I had the feeling that we must help her. To give her some new furniture. If only that was the solution….

After some moments, we asked her what her opinion was about the situation in Syria and what her ideas are about freedom. She told us that freedom is just a period between wars. In her opinion, freedom will never last forever and there will always be a war soon. These words will stay in our minds forever…

Outside the home we visited in Jordan. Photo by Michel Schippers.
    Jos van Weeren