Syria and Me

Someone asked me yesterday why I am so keen on helping Syria and the Syrian people. As I do tend to mention Syria and helping various charities who deliver aid there, quite a lot, I thought I would try to explain.
A selection of hats that I have made
and donated
My partner, Peter, and I went on a tour of Syria in January 2005. We had received a brochure from a holiday company which included the trip. I like to visit places that are not the usual type of destination and it immediately appealed to me.
Peter was widely travelled before I met him and, together, we have been on some wondrous holidays but Syria was definitely a favourite for each of us.
 
A few of the teddies that I posted recently –
 some were made and donated by other people
We were in a small group with a tour manager and coach driver who stayed with us throughout the entire holiday. Samir was our tour manager and guide and he was excellent. He was fluent in english and had a degree in archaeology, both of which helped to enhance our enjoyment of the trip. He was a skilled communicator and could bring history to life as he talked. I remember being amongst some ruins at Bosra (I think that was the place) and, as Samir told us about life at the time of the Nabateans I looked up expecting to see them emerging from one of the buildings!
Unfortunately I was taken ill as we arrived in Aleppo. However, the hotel staff, doctor and our coach driver were so friendly, pleasant and helpful that, what had begun as a very scary experience, become much less worrying with their respective interventions. In fact, our driver was most attentive. He made a bed for me at the rear of the coach, made sure I always had water available to drink, physically helped me if I needed it and always checked that I was properly dressed for the weather. He was most solicitous, without being overbearing.
Some of the Taggies that I have
made for Syrian babies to play with
The contact that Peter and I had with Syrian people affirmed for us how delightful they are. This was confirmed by another passenger on our return flight to Heathrow.
Our Syrian cabin crew asked a young male passenger if he would mind moving so that they could make a bed for me to lie on during the flight. He kindly agreed. At the end of the flight I thanked him for having moved and we began talking. He had been on the Hajj and had travelled via Syria as he had not been able to book a direct flight to Saudi Arabia. He told me how pleasant the Syrian people had been and how different his treatment had been from that he received in Saudi.
A pair of socks that I knitted and donated
That holiday had a profound effect on me. I loved Syria and was keen to return. Even though we had glimpsed some effects of living under the Assad regime, I thoroughly enjoyed the places we had seen and meeting some of the people.
Over three years ago, the UK media began to run stories about the uprising of the Syrian people. At the time, Aleppo appeared to be bearing the brunt of the regime’s reaction. We had arrived in Aleppo to the sound of the banging and crashing of drums that were being played in joyful celebration. Now, however, the banging and crashing was from gunfire and air strikes.
Hats for premature babies – there has been
a sharp increase in the number of premature
births in Syria
Our tour manager, Samir, and our coach driver (whose name escapes me) both came from Aleppo. It was a horrid feeling, knowing that we knew two lovely people who were, most probably, caught up in the terror and destruction. Indeed, one or both of them might even have already been killed. From what we could see in the media, there was widespread suffering and destruction. It broke my heart, and it still does.
I do not profess to be an expert on Syria or its people nor can I quote endless statistics to back up anything that I say. I can only follow my conscience – and my conscience is telling me that I must do anything that I can to help those in need.
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6 thoughts on “Syria and Me

  1. Dina! Thank you for sharing your experience in Syria. Too often the media causes us to think only of the “bad guys” in any country experiencing unrest. You have reminded us of the other side of the story.

    Like

  2. Now I understand why Syria has such a special place in your heart, Dina. Thank you for sharing your story with us. You are doing something really wonderful and it comes from your heart.

    Like

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