October 24, 2013
Ghira’a, 28, lives with her 11-year-old son and elderly father in a small tent in Bab al-Salameh camp, where they fled last year after shelling destroyed their home in a village outside Idlib city. Roughly 3,700 of Syria’s 5.1 million Internally Displaced Persons live in the camp, close to the village of Atmaa next to Syria’s northern border with Turkey.
A day after heavy rain flooded the tents, Ghira’a’s family and neighbors huddle around their television, a luxury in the camp. Syria Direct’s Nuha Shabaan visited Ghira’a and spoke with her about fears of the upcoming winter and why she believes women are being sidelined in the Syrian revolution.
Q: Do you regret the revolution?
A: No. We don’t regret the revolution, but we want it to end. We are very tired. I want the world to see what has happened to us. What did we do to deserve something like this?
Q: You spent last winter here. What do you expect to be different in your second winter?
A: Not much. Last winter was very hard. Many children died because of the cold. I don’t know what will happen to us. I was expecting to have already returned to our village, but things are getting more complicated. We are slowly dying.
Torn tents in Bab al-Salameh camp, home to 3,700 of Syria’s 5.1 million IDPs. Photo courtesy of Nuha Shabaan.
I think it’s going to be a long winter. If it starts raining we will drown in the mud and our children will die of the cold. We hope someone will come and have mercy on us.
Q: How are you preparing for winter?
A: It’s very cold here in the winter, and the blankets they distributed are very thin and don’t warm you. The night is long. We want warm blankets for winter.
Q: What is your opinion about the role of women in the Syrian revolution?
A: I see it as very weak. You only hear powerful men’s voices. Where are the women of Syria? Where is their role? It comes from awareness, but her voice is very weak. We have cultured women, women of literature, women who are authors, everything. But [a woman’s] voice is strangled, weak. That is how I see it.
Q: Do you see Syrian women opposition on TV? Do you you think they represent Syrian women?
A: Of course they represent us, but very weakly. I am not educated, unfortunately. I only studied until sixth grade, but my sister is a university student and my sister is a voluntary student in a religious school.
Q: As women in the camp, what is your role? What are your activities?
A: For me and most other women, most of what we do is the cooking, cleaning, washing and educating our children. Other women teach children in a school in the camp.
Q: How do you get water here?
A: Wells have been opened in the camp. Youth dug and made wells especially for drinking water. We have a water pump that runs on gas. It used to be very hard to provide water. Our life was hell. Cars would come and distribute water, but not enough. It always ran out immediately. We couldn’t do much with it, no washing or cleaning.
Thank God, it’s much better now.
Q: Who gives you aid?
A: There are people who come and donate, but very few. The camp is full of widows and divorced women who need help.