Wednesday, November 28, 2012

11.25.12 Visited two Syrian families after Nadia

After visiting with darling Nadia, we went back to the ghetto section of Damascus (the former Palestinian refugee camp) to visit two more families. 

Down another alley we went, entering the home of a family from the district of Babsbaa of Homs.  

Upon entering we saw an older woman sitting up against pillows on the floor mattress.  She looked very, very sad. Her husband told us her story as he looked at her lovingly. 

One day about 1,500 regime soldiers came into their district with tanks and snipers. There was no provocation before the soldiers arrived. Tanks drove right up in front of their house. The soldiers started looting homes and destroying everything they couldn’t take. They separated the men from the women. They stripped her son naked, covered his head and then started savagely beating him.  Right there in front of everyone.  They brought him to his knees and demanded that he say that Bashar Al- Assad was is his God. She was so horrified at what she saw and couldn’t stop and collapsed, having had a heart attack and stroke simultaneously.  She survived but the stroke did damage, leaving the right side of her body paralyzed.   Before the incident she was the director of a charity as well as a passport employee and did most of the housework. She is 62 and can’t do much as she lost some brain function. And she is aware of the loss and struggles to remember words and names.

Their son was imprisoned for one month, tortured but eventually was set free.  He is now wanted by the Syrian government. 

They said they had seen such violence only is movies and couldn’t believe until they saw it.

The husband/father then told a story about a good soldier - who saved his life. He wanted to go out to buy cigarettes but a soldier gave him some and told him to go back inside or he would be killed.

After that traumatic series of events, they fled to Midan in Syria. That area also came under attack so they decided they had to flee to Jordan. They brought the son who was arrested with them (along with a daughter) but one son stayed in Syria to fight against the regime with the Free Syrian army. While fighting he was wounded in the eye and went without food for one week. He was able to make it to Jordan for treatment but was so disheveled and starved when he arrived that his family did not recognize him. He had to have two surgeries and told stories of the massacre at Zeitoon where Iranians slaughtered people with knives.

We settled in for a cup of coffee and began to talk with the older woman. We told her our names and got her to repeat them back. Some she found funny...Abdulaziz in particular.  She would say it three times in a row and would start laughing heartily. We all joined in. We continued on and she laughed more. We celebrated when she said our names correctly with a round of applause that she relished in.  Her family was very pleased that she had a few moments of joy because she is sad so much of the time. 

16:29 The second visit was to a family from Zeitoon.  Their son was arrested for 13 days, tortured and released. Every time he passed a checkpoint after that he was beaten. He used to work in Babsbaa but they arrested him there so he did not return. They fled to a Damascus suburb until it came under attack from missiles and then came to Jordan. They arrived in Jordan illegally, having been smuggled through the desert. They stayed in camp Syba city for one month and then left for Amman. The husband used to be a butcher but can’t find work here. He tried a job for one month but was never paid.  One of the reasons they left the camp was to find work, but only one son has a job at an appliance repair shop where he make 20 JD ($28) a week.  All of the wife’s family are still in Homs, they are only able to call once every two weeks. One of the children’s schools in Syria has been destroyed and the other used as a military base. 

`The woman is crocheting scarves in the colors of the FSA flag and selling them to make money. At the same time she is teaching her daughter (about nine years old) to crochet.  The girl had just finished crocheting a bracelet and was very proud of her work. I decided I wanted to buy a scarf. She didn’t have finished so I paid for the scarf and she would bring it to the office the next day. Which she did! And her daughter gave me the bracelet she was so proud of. I’m wearing it now.

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