Humans of Syria

‘They will rebuild the ancient ruins and restore the places long devastated; they will renew the ruined cities that have been devastated for generations.’

Isaiah 61:4

Take a break from the bleak news reports on Syria’s war and refugee crisis to meet some extraordinary Syrians. Each one has escaped war in Syria and now lives in Lebanon, many in the sprawling refugee camps. Yet their creativity, kindness and determination to dream still shines through.

Diana

Diana

Diana is 15. She's a bit of a live wire and the life and soul of her family, according to her mother: 

‘The kids are getting involved with drawing just to forget their problems. Trying a new skill helps. It’s a very different life here for the kids, especially that they had many events going on back there, and so here I’m having to say to them, come on, do something, just create something, be creative!

‘I want Diana to become an artist. She’s very creative. She envisions things. Sometimes when the family is really depressed, she comes and starts playing the fool. She dresses up and pretends to be a very old lady, or performs sketches just to make us forget and have some fun. She’s very artistic, and she has some great moments of creativity. Yesterday she put on a moustache and some thick eyebrows and made herself into a very old man, and went to her grandpa and acted it out and he didn’t know her! Even I didn’t know her until I realised it was my daughter!

‘If you ever need a clown, get to know this one!’

Issan and Ali

Issan Ali and Family
Issan, Ali and kids

Issan and Ali* have been married for almost 40 years. ‘She’s my queen!’ says the retired train station employee proudly. They now look after their grandchildren, who lost both parents in Syria.

Issan‘The children have no one but us,’ says Issam. ‘Our grandson is sick with epilepsy. I’ll do anything to provide this medicine for him, I’d even go to bed without food to provide it.

‘You know what it’s like when you’re raising kids who’ve lost their parents, it’s very hard. My husband has diabetes and has undergone five surgeries, and now I have trouble with my leg. I just pray that God will help me out and show me a different life.

‘We keep dreaming. We have this shelter, which is more than we can ask for, at least in the whole situation we are going through. And when the food parcels are delivered, we party!

‘I wish and pray for the children to have high standards and morals. This is the most important thing: to be good people.’

Nada

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Nada

Eight year old Nada loves to help her mother with cooking and tending the flower garden they have grown outside their tent. Her mother, Um Mohamed, has decorated the inside walls of their tent with pale blue satin and frilled curtains. ‘I want to be a children’s doctor,’ says Nada. ‘The one thing I want in this world is that people won’t get sick.’

Housni

Housni

Housni is a food distributions volunteer and has the kind of infectious laugh that sends everyone around him into laughter too.

‘I like smiling. It’s good for me. I think that God gave me this smile and made me happy.


Four years ago my brother was killed in Homs, my city. A lot of bad things happened. It was very beautiful, a place of peace and life, but just one minute changed everything. Now it has no life, no buildings or anything.


When I’m in the camps helping everybody and giving out food parcels, I forget about everything in my life. At that moment I am happy - I give to people, I am smiling with everybody, everything is good, this is my life. When I come back home and sit to drink tea or coffee, I remember. But in my work, I don’t think about it.


When I started spending time with my God, praying and reading the Bible and going to church, I felt everything change in my life. God touched my heart and gave me peace.


God is good to anybody - Christian or Muslim people. I don’t make any difference, thinking that this Christian is good, this Muslim not. No, God watches everybody and loves everybody.


I don’t have any money. But every month in my home, there’s a knock at the door and somebody visits me and gives me food or clothes. I don’t know these people, God sends them to me. 

I don’t think too hard about anything. It’s enough that God thinks about me. Yes, everything is good. I think God can fix everything in my life.’

Fadi

Fadi

Eighteen year old Fadi is a warehouse volunteer.

‘The pressure was so, so hard on me. There are 15 or 20 of my friends who’ve been killed. When you see people sending bombs on your area and killing your friends... I wanted to fight because I wanted revenge.

I know now that God wants a better future for me, and he doesn’t want me to fight. I’ve changed a lot of things. There is a verse that says all things work together for good. My Mum, when I was in Syria, was always telling me this verse. When I got here to Lebanon I realised how much it’s true in my life.

Before, I was wondering why this thing is happening to me. But when I saw the refugees living in those camps and tents and in terrible conditions, I realised that my situation is way better than theirs. When I’m giving them the parcels and I see the smile on their faces, it does something to you. When they know that we are Syrian, it makes them happier to see that Syrians are helping them. So I make sure to tell them that I’m a Syrian too. They say, ‘Oh really?’ and it starts a conversation. It’s so encouraging.’

Ahed al Khaled

Ahed
Ahed

‘I would tell all the terrorists and those who are bombing to leave Syria and get out,' says 10 year-old Ahed. I hate everything that is going on. I watched the buildings collapse next to my house, and my own house too. My Dad wanted to put me in a football club before the war, but the war happened and I don’t have a ball to play with right now. I want to be a professional football player. I am the oldest of five brothers and sisters and I take care of them. When I am a star I want to help kids to practice football.’

Miss Hala

Miss Hala
Miss Hala

‘I left a paid job in Syria to come and teach the refugee children here in Lebanon. First of all I make the children feel that they are special to me. I always encourage them when they do something right, and even when they do something wrong, I tell them that they did something wrong but I take special interest and care of them. As a Christian, I try to be faithful in the smallest details. We are hoping to start tent schools in the camps, so I will soon start teaching in those.’

If (my son) is going through any kind of issue, he always talks to Miss Hala and tells her his problems.

Wissam, Parent

Wissam, mother of two of Miss Hala’s pupils, says: ‘When we first came here the children were so aggressive, but then we saw a change. Recently my son Abed was arguing with a friend of his and was just about to push him onto the floor, but then he remembered that Miss Hala told him that you need to be kind to people, you need to forgive them even if they’ve hurt you. And with my other son Ahmed, if he’s going through any kind of issue, he always talks to Miss Hala and tells her his problems. She read him a Bible verse: ‘Come to me all who are weary, and I will give you rest,’ and my son says he loves this verse.’

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