When Hasan’s village in Syria was finally free of war, he and his family were the first to put their bodies on the line to remake their village.
“I lived alone with my family in a village of ghosts at first,” Hasan confessed.
Hasan is the mayor of 18 rural villages. He feels the responsibility for a lot of families who don’t have much in the way of resources. He knew that talk alone wouldn’t bridge the gap holding families back from returning home. He needed to start with bold, simple actions to remake his communities.
First, he and his family moved home. Then he provided some resources that allowed others to follow.
“I started bringing bread and diesel from the city each morning, to convince my people to come back home—that we could provide for ourselves and live safely again in our homes. We created small groups of men and young boys to help every family. We combined efforts to serve every family’s needs. It was a very busy time. We did what we could with the limited resources we had, and we still don’t have much.”
Hasan didn’t wait for someone else to save them. He didn’t wait for the government, or outside organizations. He and his community began to rebuild home with what they had in their hands.
The villages still don’t have electricity or much water. It’s not easy to be back home. But inconvenience wasn’t the main obstacle. “The process of bringing back our people to the village or their homes was very difficult. Fear was the main barrier.”
And fear, Hasan knew, could only be conquered with presence.
Josy came to our distribution of warm clothes, waterproof boots, and sleeping mats with her only child, Warde, slung on her back. She and her husband returned to their village, hoping to rebuild.
Josy’s husband, Ahmad, wasn’t at the distribution—he is trying to make a living working in the fields around their community. He’s a very hard worker, but despite the long hours, he can’t earn enough to supply all of their needs right now. When you’re starting from scratch, you need everything!
Josy, Ahmad, and little Warde needed a little help to get them through this time.
When Mona returned to her village a little more than a year and a half ago, she returned to a house that no longer existed. She and her little sisters had spent more of their lives displaced by war than they ever spent in that house, but still—it was a blow to see the place that was theirs, the place they belonged to, gone.
Mona picked up sleeping mats, shoes, and warm hats for her family. She told us the first thing she was going to do when she got home to her grandparents’ house, where Mona and her family live until they can rebuild, was to try on her new warm clothes…and then share with her sisters.
Even in the shadow of war, kids will be kids.
Hasan didn’t wait for someone else to save the families he cares for. Josy didn’t wait for the government to fix the electricity before she and her family moved home. Mona’s parents didn’t wait for an organization to rebuild their house before they came back to their village.
They all began to rebuild home with what they had in their hands.
If fear—the kind of fear that comes to you in the night and tells you that your efforts are not enough, that you are not enough—can be conquered with presence, then we can continue to press in and be that presence for Syrian families who are doing the very best they can. As Syria figures out what life looks like now with ISIS on the ropes, we can stand beside families, providing them with supplies they need to live.