Friendship in the face of war

By CARE Australia March 10, 2016 0 comments
Rania, Hana and Ghosoun are all friends - and Syrian refugees.

Rania, Hana and Ghosoun are all friends - and Syrian refugees. © CARE

How does friendship fare in the face of war? Where once Rania, Hana and Ghosoun used to chat about everyday things such as upcoming weddings and their families, now their conversations revolve around survival.

36-year-old Rania, 32-year-old Hana and 41-year-old Ghosoun used to meet every day back in Homs in Syria to gossip about the things they wanted to buy, what they would wear for a party and upcoming weddings. Now their daily conversations revolve around sharing news of the latest casualties of loved ones back in Syria and how to manage the myriad of problems they face as refugees in Jordan.

When war broke in Syria nearly five years ago the friends, even though they all lived in the same area, were quickly separated from each other by blockades and barriers that appeared across the city. As the bombing and fighting increased the three women were displaced across Syria in different directions and lost contact.

One by one, starting with Ghosoun, they decided to make their way across the border into Jordan. As they did so they all found temporary refuge in a school in the capital Amman that the landlord had given to Syrian refugees as accommodation. Here, by chance and fate, the friends of ten years found each other again.

Although they are living only next door to Syria, their lives in Jordan couldn’t be more different. Their husbands, who worked as construction workers and a butcher back in Syria are now unemployed with nothing to do as they don’t have the right as refugees to work in the country. This leaves them with so much time on their hands to think about the myriad of pressures and stresses facing them. Instead of work, they spend most of their time praying at the mosque or shopping for the home. Some, like Hana’s husband, do work informally; risking the penalties if caught by the authorities.

The women are also unable to help out financially; ill-equipped to work having never done so before. They now spend most of their time together watching the news from information from inside Syria – something they also never did before the war. “Now we are always watching the news to see if it gets better and we can go back. We hope and pray it will get better, but then we see the news and it is full of blood and death,” says Hana.

Like the majority of Syrian refugees in the region, the women and their families decided to try to make a life in the city – much more similar to their lives in Homs – than the refugee camps. But urban living poses its own and very real daily challenges. The biggest one is paying the rent on their apartments without being able to earn an income to do so.

Despite these difficulties, none of the women want to move again. “The journey was so bad from Syria to here I could not repeat it again,” says Hana. “We were sleeping outside in the dirt and as we were walking we saw the dead in front of us. You pass bodies and people killing each other in front of you because they want water and there is no water. You literally have to walk over the bodies and the streams of blood and fire,” she adds. They are all still traumatised by the things they saw on this journey and it has taken a long time for them to feel safe again. As Ghosoun says; “when we first got to Jordan and heard aeroplanes or fireworks from parties we were screaming and scared.”

Rania, who has recently been assessed to receive CARE’s emergency cash has participated in different psychosocial and recreational activities held at CARE’s “safe spaces” for refugees in Amman, reminisces from time to time with her friends about their lives before the fighting started. But when they do, it seems like a distant dream. “Our lives have changed 100 per cent,” says Rania, “We had a home and a car and my husband was working. Here is Jordan we have nothing at all,” she adds. “I miss the subjects we talked about before. Now we talk about ‘you know who died/was injured last week?’”

Sadly this March marks five years of conflict in Syria. Syrian refugees need your help now more than ever. Make a donation to CARE’s Syrian Refugee Crisis Appeal today by clicking here.

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