Not all Syrians are experiencing the crisis the same way. Not all are displaced for the long-term but others are still equally hurt by the war. Imagine being told to take a few pieces of clothing and leave everything behind because you will be back after a couple of hours. What if those uncertain hours turned into a daunting three months away from home?
In 2014, what happened in Kessab, an Armenian village up north from Latakia, changed the whole village’s livelihood. A dear friend of mine poured her heart to me about her experience of being displaced for three months. One morning in March, her entire village was rudely awoken by bombs that dropped from the sky. Her family immediately evacuated. She was prepared to take her guitar with her but her father stopped her saying, ”just take some clothes with you, we will be back in a few hours”. Little did they all know they weren’t coming back – and her guitar would be destroyed completely.
The first week was difficult attempting to search for a place to live with her family of five. Her relatives could not host them any longer in Latakia. Hence, they travelled across the borders into Lebanon where they were welcomed to take refuge in Anjar, a Lebanese-Armenian village. The next three months changed her life. She told me she went into a depression and occupied her time with painting the scenery that surrounded her.
Finally they received news that it was safe to return. Making a scout trip back home, her brother and father were devastated to find their home unlivable. Their house was torn apart, all their furniture destroyed to bits and cupboards ransacked. The remnants of the house were strewn on the ground, ankle-deep. It was unthinkable for them to rebuild their lives and he cried saying that they should leave Kessab and find another home.
This image is taken from the internet, but it is close enough a depiction to the scene described by my dear friend
Until...he walked to the backyard, he saw his apple trees in his farm – they were in fruition. He decided that he would carry his family and restart their lives again.
My friend had repeatedly told me that her life had changed. No longer did she hold on to things tightly. She would never save the best for the future because of its uncertainty. Instead she would cherish what she had in the here and now – or it may be gone the next day.
While she mustered all the courage within her to retell this story to me, meekly she told me that whenever she thought about this whole incident, it triggered the painful memories of loss and her depression and it would make her want to cry. I was overwhelmed by her sharing, moving me to tears. All I could be was her listening ear.
It took her family three years to rebuild their home. With help of the government and their life-savings from the apple trees, they returned to their home. The Lord had provided for them. With the apple trees that grew in their backyard, it was the hope for them to carry on living.