Nura: A Syrian Refugee
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These hardships do not discriminate; nobody in a refugee camp is immune to them. Nobody at all.
A story of another childhood lost: Part two.
Part one of Nura's story can be found here.
Just like we expected, another month passed us by without any of the promises that came out of Washington after the "red-line" was crossed ever materializing into action. But that was the general expectation around the refugee camp anyways, as for the most part nobody living in the camp thought the Western politicians had the courage to actually follow through with their words. Or to say it in a different way, that they care enough about us to do something: anything.
So for those of us who remain living inside of this hell-on-earth we are resolved to the fact that we will likely be here for some time longer, as the war doesn't seem to be moving in any sort of direction that even remotely signals the end may be in sight. Well actually, that isn't entirely true: The end of the war is approaching. It, however, is only approaching due to the fact that every day more Syrians from both sides of the conflict die. And so thinking about it in those terms ' that the Syrian population continues to decline because Syrians are killing each other off ' does signal that the end may indeed be approaching. If I am being honest, there are times I wonder if that would just be better for us all. At least then our suffering would come to an end.
Life here in the refugee camp has gotten significantly worse over the past few months. There has been an incredible amount of sickness throughout the camp that continues to spread and is greatly affecting both the elderly and the young children alike. Violence and crime ' especially amongst the teen-age guys ' is becoming much more commonplace in the camp. The food rations are becoming more meager, and malnourishment is on the rise to say the least. Honestly, it just seems like every day life gets worse and worse for us here.
And these hardships do not discriminate; nobody living in a refugee camp is immune to them. Nobody at all.
Before the war began, we were a family of six: my father, mother, three younger siblings and myself. Now, however, we are only three for certain, and maybe four. My mother died shortly after we arrived at the camp, as the journey from our home in Syria to the refugee camp across the Jordanian border proved to be to difficult for her. My youngest brother Mahmoud, who was just five, also died a few months ago. The doctors said his tiny, feeble, malnourished body had just become too weak to fight off any longer the sicknesses he was contracting, and one night he passed away. And then there is my father, who stayed back in Syria to fight against the evil Bashar al-Assad regime, who may ' or may not ' still be alive.
That leaves my two younger siblings, Aisha who is seven and Abdulla who is nine, and myself. Sadly though, both Aisha and Abdulla are now greatly struggling with health-related issues of their own. They both have had a lot of ongoing intestinal problems, and are now extremely malnourished. In light of the fact that most days we only get one meal, which often is merely rice and possibly a bit of soup, malnourishment amongst young children is unfortunately the norm, not the exception, here in the refugee camp. Every single day I pray to God though and ask that he will spare their lives. As a family we have already lost so much, and having to face more loss of life seems too much to bear. I personally have also experienced some horrible things; but I do not want to recall them because of the shame and disgrace they brought upon me.
Although life in the refugee camp has been getting worse, there is a group of devout Muslims who have taken it upon themselves to try and help make life in the camp better for us. Some people say that they have ulterior motives, and that they just do things that make them look like they truly do care for us, but in reality they have their own secret agenda and plans. And that may be true. But I don't really care.
You see, when your seven-year-old sister and nine-year-old brother are severely malnourished, you yourself are not very healthy, your mother and youngest sibling have both already died since you arrived at the refugee camp, and your father is off fighting in the very war you fled, help is welcome from nearly any source. Just as the hardships of a refugee camp do not discriminate, those of us who are refugees experiencing the very real effects of these hardships in this God-awful place do not discriminate either when it comes to whom we accept help from. And right now, the lamb stew the group of devout Muslims is bringing around seems so much better than the bowl of rice we got from the feeding station earlier today.
Yes, they may have ulterior motives, but at least for today, my younger brother, sister and I get to go to bed with full tummies. And that is a very welcome thing.
Jeff d. Patterson, Middle East Specialist: While the ashes were beginning to settle in New York City with the setting of the sun on 9/11, Jeff D. Patterson was unpacking his bags far, far away from American shores; far, far away from his family and friends; far, far away from his homeland. He was starting a new phase of life in a region of the world he would call ‘home’ for most of the next decade. Jeff was taking his first breaths of Middle Eastern air, thinking of the world becoming a better place… In contrast to most... (more...)