What are your best and worst memories from Qamishli?
Wow, I don’t know where to begin. I have so many good memories imprinted in my heart. I cannot choose one because there are so many; from silly things in school with friends, to mini trips with the family throughout Syria, to celebrations of Christmas and Easter.
The worst memory I have was a time when I was on my way from Qamishli to Aleppo while we were fleeing the war. It was a 9-hour drive by bus. Before, it used to be a beautiful ride with beautiful buildings, houses, people and restaurants on the road. But that day I saw a completely different scene. It was filled with sorrow, and the beautiful buildings were reduced to stones on the ground. There were no houses, no restaurants and no people. During the trip to Aleppo the bus had to stop more than five times at checkpoints. Some checkpoints belonged to the Syrian military and some were controlled by ISIS. Once, my sister and I had to hide under the seats so the ISIS soldiers wouldn’t take us. Another horrible memory is simply when I realized that this is it, I will never go back to my country. I cried the entire flight.
Have you lost any friends or family members during the war?
I was one of the lucky ones who didn’t lose any friends or family members. But in Qamishli, everyone knows everyone, and we heard a lot of incredibly sad stories about people who disappeared during bombings and shootings. I had family members and friends, both boys and girls, who were drafted to the military. It was during the worst time in the war and the military needed as many people as possible. When these people would return, they were very different. What they witnessed during their time in the military changed them. In that way, I’ve lost loved ones.
If you could go back, would you stay in Sweden or move back to Syria?
I would definitely go back. Besides the fact that I miss it, I want to help rebuild what the war has destroyed. I want to see my country back on its feet and stronger than ever. I want to start a family there and I want my children to grow up in the country that I grew up in.
If you could send a message to Christians in the West, what would you want them to know about Syria?
I want people not to only think of war when they hear “Syria,” because it’s so much more. I want them to know that the Syrian people are struggling and fighting for the country to remain. But most of all, I want them to continue to pray every day for the people there and know that any contribution is an enormous help for the Syrians.