A Syrian family speak of the horrors they faced before fleeing Syria, and how they are coping with building a new life for themselves here in the Manchester.
The parents, who both asked to remain anonymous for fear of their relatives lives in Syria, were separated once the father left Syria in search for a new home. He travelled to the UK to find work and a suitable place to live for his family.
The mother explained that while her husband was away, she had become the mother and the father of their two children. “I feared everyday for them as we were living alone. I had neighbours upstairs and downstairs but we all feared for our lives”. Her husband also said that before he came to the UK, both his brother and his father were killed by the war.
The reason they decided to leave Syria was because they feared for their children’s mental health. Seven-year-old Alaa, daughter of the parents, was in a near-fatal car accident that left her traumatised. Since the car crash, her mother described how she feared for her psychological state. “Whenever she is in a car, she gets scared, even at night she still struggles to sleep and it is because of this car crash”. Although the car crash she was in was not a direct result of the war, she and nine-year-old Hussein, her brother, still had to witness “seeing dead bodies on the street around them”.
Now the family live together in the Greater Manchester area having been reunited after a year. I asked the father about the welfare of the family, and how they are able to cope with house bills.
“I do whatever I can. I do little jobs. In Syria, I was always out to sea and I would hardly see my family. I would be out to sea sometimes for almost a year”. The father, who worked for an import-export company in Syria, said that he will build up his work and look for little jobs to do around the house for anyone that needs help. Since moving to the UK, he has had help from his local job centre in order to find work. He has also taken up English language classes which he attends three times a week.
The mother tells me how she fears for the family she left behind in Syria. “I still have siblings in Syria, and they are there with their family and I try to keep contact with them as much as I can”.
She said that from the early stages of the war between President Bashar Al-Assad and the Syrian Rebel Army, it became very hard to live. “We had no gas and we had no electricity. It was always cold and we had to find new ways to cook our meals. We could not even find any places for groceries. After a while it became too dangerous to go outside so me and my children remained inside. it was just war, war and more war.”.
Since arriving to the UK, her children have been able to attend school and are also learning English. The father said that for his children, it has been harder to adapt to life here Manchester.