Damascus in my heart

In the early days of December 2007, I stood on Mount Qasioun with my husband and my daughter and looked out over the sprawling city of Damascus, hoping that we could make a happy home there.

N and I mount qassioun

Three years later, we left this amazing country where we had made our home. We had welcomed two more children into our family, met some fantastic people, visited breathtaking places and learned so much, about ourselves and our place in the world.

I knew it then, and I know it now – my place in the world is one of privilege.

I cannot fully understand this…

I have never witnessed my everyday life crumble into pieces. I have never wondered whether I will have a warm meal today, or whether my children can continue their education. I have never listened to people fighting or bombs falling at night, trying to comfort my children telling them it will be all right. I have set up a new home in many countries, but never has my home been destroyed before me or my friends and relatives killed around me. Never have I been forced to leave my home against my will, taking with me only what I could, not knowing if I would make it to my destination or when I would return home, if ever.

Yet for many Syrians, this is what life has become.

Last week, I wrote a text summarizing a presentation I attended at the Families in Global Transition (FIGT) conference. It was called What Expats Can Do – Bring Hope To The World, and is based on a project launched by Claudia Landini and Cristina Baldan.

As expats, they argue, we are adept at trying to understand the world from another’s point of view. As expats, they say, we ought to take our ability to understand the other’s world, and put it to use – because if you can understand the troubles of another, haven’t you got a responsibility to act?

I can’t fully understand what it’s like to see your world destroyed by war. My reality simply isn’t harsh enough.

…but I have to try, because my heart is still broken

Privileged, I may be, but that home, and my heart, is still broken. So, Claudia and Cristina, I accept your challenge. Thank you, for reminding me that some things are more important than others.

Note – Jarand and I support the organisation Helping Refugees in Jordan, run by Catherine Ashcroft in Amman. We know Catherine from our time in Damascus and trust her work completely.