SYRIA - Saboura village – March 15 2018

Hanaa and Abdullah, siblings aged respectively 11 and 9 years old, were welcomed at SOS Saboura village on 5th of March 2018 after escaping from the besieged area of Eastern Ghouta. Hanaa tell us their story.

Hanaa and Abdullah*, siblings aged respectively 11 and 9 years old, were welcomed at SOS Saboura village on 5th of March 2018 after escaping from the besieged area of Eastern Ghouta. The children were trying to get out through the humanitarian corridors with their parents when they were shot. Hanaa and Abdullah were able to escape and survive. We unfortunately still did not hear any news about their parent. The medical check-ups we did for them when they arrived to the village were reassuring, the two children are in good health conditions. All they need to have good nutrition. At a psychological level, they appear to be in good condition and they act naturally during the day, but at night they manifest some trauma symptoms, such as nightmares. In the upcoming months, the siblings will through psychological support sessions in order to heal the impact of psychological trauma they experienced during the previous period. Hanaa and Abdullah are gradually getting used to their new living environment in Saboura village. Last week, they participated to two activities in the village and went with their SOS mother for shopping once.

We were able to speak with Hanaa, few days after her arrival to the village and she told us her story.


When did you decide to leave Eastern Ghouta?

We tried several times to get out of Eastern Ghouta during daytime but we could not, because the situation was very dangerous. But one day my father became very furious about the situation and was determined to leave the area.  He told my mother that we should try again during the night so that no one could see us. First my mother refused and was very scared and did not talk about our escape. Their discussion lasted few days, and then they decided that we are going to escape at night.


What happened during the night when you left? 

My father told us to keep running as long as we can and to crawl when we cannot, he told us not to stop, no matter what happens, and so we did. We left the house at midnight without taking anything with us and we kept walking very quickly until we reached an area where my father asked us to stop for some minutes. He was waiting for a moment to cross to the other side of the road so that we could walk along the collapsed building’s walls. We were very close to the humanitarian corridor when the shooting started. At that moment we were terrified and started running very quickly, but my mother was slower than us. I am sure that she was shot because she fell and started screaming loudly. At that moment my father ran back to carry her, and he shouted at us to keep running. Without thinking, we ran until we reached the nearby trees and because of the intense fire we began to crawl in order not to be shot. I don’t know what happened to my father because after he shouted at us we no longer heard his voice.

We continued to crawl until we crossed the humanitarian corridor; one of the soldiers saw us and took us to a nearby security checkpoint where there were many other soldiers. My brother and I were shivering and we barely could answers the question they asked us. I was able to speak but my brother was not.


How was your life in the besieged area of Eastern Ghouta?

Before escaping, we lived in the besieged areas for many years. I can say that there is no life inside that place. It is really scary. Not a single day has passed without many bombs fell on the area. After losing our home we had to move to different places to live. The life inside is very dangerous. When shell fell, my mother used to hold us so strongly that our shoulders would hurt. I can't believe that we survived through all that bombing. I lost my three close friends in one month and my brother lost his best friend too.


When did you stop going to school?

I am 11 years old, I have to be at fifth grade now and my brother at 3th grade, but I left the school two years ago because it was destroyed.


Was it difficult to get food while you were in the besieged area?

My father and mother had to work many hours every day in the parsley harvest to earn only 2000 SYP per day (almost 4 $). It was not enough because everything is expensive. The price of one kilogram of sugar is 3000 SYP (almost 6 $). It is also very dirty where we lived and there were no medical services. A lot of people died because they were not able to get their medicines or to have urgent surgeries. My father was always saying to my mother that he doesn’t care about himself anymore but he doesn’t want us to continue living this life. He kept saying that death is better than this life.


What happened after your escape?

We spent one day at the house of Damascus governorate and the next day, his daughter bought us new clothes and took us to the SOS village. My brother and I are living now in the house of mama Wardeh with four other children. She told me that she is very happy that I am going to live with her because all other children in the house are boys. She is beautiful and very nice with us. The next day after our arrival she introduced me to the girls who live in the neighboring house in the village and now I visit them every day.


How did you find Saboura village?

I was very surprised when we arrived to the village. I found it very beautiful and clean. My room is very nice and has a beautiful view too. Mama Wardeh told me that I am going to join school again starting from next September. I unfortunately cannot join it now because we are in the middle of the second semester, which is going to end soon, and then will come summer vacation. Because I am the only girl in the house, there are three empty beds in my room, which I am happy about it because mama Wardeh is sleeping with me in the same room for me to feel safer because I told her that I dream about my mother several times, laying on the ground and bleeding.


What do you like most about the village?

I like Manar, my friend living next to our house. I really like a lot of things about the village, it is a beautiful please and everyone is very nice to us.

*The names of the children were changed to protect their privacy.