It’s Sunrise in Damascus

21 September 2013

I woke up this morning in the resilient city of Damascus to find a pigeon sitting at my kitchen stove. Perhaps it’s a ray of hope in this weary city. But the scene is telling: the pigeon threw its caution to the wind in search of food. It is the ultimate quest in a time of war.

Today, people rarely watch the news. They rely on pigeons for signs of safety. If the pigeons are out and about, people know it is safe to be out on the streets of the city. But when the pigeons are nowhere to be seen, everyone stays inside.

This change in the habits of pigeons can be also seen in humans. There are shifts that have not yet been told in the media.

It’s a sea of sadness. People wait in long queues for bread and fear they could be the regime’s next target. Activists smuggle medicine for the wounded and defy the security apparatus. People coming together to ensure baby formula reaches its final destination, often a family living in a neighborhood that’s under siege. Fear is very real, present when mortar shells fall or when a bomb explodes in a residential area.

The price paid for elusive freedom has taken its toll. But behind this sadness, there are stolen moments of happiness, of hope and of daily discipline to persevere. Activists work to offer much-needed emotional support for internally displaced children and to follow up on the cases of their imprisoned fellows at the Justice Palace.

They may launch an impromptu protest in one of the markets in Damascus or get into a heated discussion about current affairs, from the veracity of the use of chemical weapons to when the regime might topple.

In spite of the scarcity of many basic needs in Damascus, its residents have excelled at creating alternatives to fill those gaps — either by reverting to more primitive methods of making things or by choosing different raw material altogether. This is signifies the presence of a civil resistance that fights both tyranny and deteriorating living conditions, creating hope by inventing new methods of survival.

This is a resistance movement that reflects the Syrians’ perseverance and how they navigate the chaos that has engulfed them. Syria Untold is our attempt to present voices from inside Syria to shed light on issues neglected by the media. It represents the unpolished opinions of Syrians, along with their fears, hopes, desperation, tears and dreams.

We will try to make these voices from within Damascus and other Syrian cities heard where people condemn war and injustice and demand freedom instead. They remain optimistic in spite of everything. Syria Untold reveals the current reality of the Syrian people who trod the thin line between life and death.

(Translated from Arabic by Naziha Baassiri.)


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Illustation by Dima Nechawi Graphic Design by Hesham Asaad