Over a month ago, the Syrian Army came to the area around our village and fought the anti-government insurgents that were terrorizing our friends and families. My nephews stayed in their home, to try to protect it from the terrorists who had broken into empty homes and stolen from and damaged them. My brother and his wife, their daughter-in-law and her children all fled to the home of their daughter-in-law’s parents in a village several miles away. My sister and her husband, their sons, their daughter-in-law and her children, fled to the city, Homs, in hopes it would be safer there.
The fighting died down and the army moved on. My family returned as the fighting was more distant. But the daughters-in-law and children stayed away from the village. The school is closed now. There is shelling and mortar fire even without heavy fighting and everyone feels it is best to try to shield the kids from as much of the fighting as possible.
When I talked to my brother and sister, they were back home and said that while the fighting continued, it wasn’t close and wasn’t as active. They felt they would be able to stay. Then, some terrorists came to the food distribution center set up by the government to provide for the people during the war. They fired guns in the air and demanded food. They took all the rice and sugar.
My friend sent me this message, “Tension all around. Rebels only demanding food from us. We are not worried at all of any engagement that may bring harm to anybody. Despite this feeling by many, others still are scared and prefer to stay away from the village until tensions ease, which I rated only natural. My best to you and yours, and God bless.”
That message was sent to me last Friday. Later that night, I saw a Facebook post written by one of my nephews. He wrote, “since we left Homs….and we left the village, only God knows where we can go now.”
Since then, I spent the week trying to reach my family. Finally, I talked to my brother-in-law Wednesday morning. And now, here is the latest news. My sister returned to Homs. Her husband and the boys stayed in the village. My brother and his wife and all their boys left. Their eldest is with his wife at her parents house. The two younger boys are with my brother and his wife in a village a few miles away. I don’t know where they are staying and I have no way to reach them. My sister may still be in Homs, but there is no phone where she is.
I talked to my oldest sister, in Allentown. She is very upset. I could hear her despair. Our brother and sister always say, “don’t worry.” But who doesn’t worry now?
Everything is falling apart.
I used to call all my siblings once a month. (I also have a sister in Arizona). We would catch up on all the news. How are the kids doing in school? How’s work? What’s going on in the village? (Anyone getting married? Anyone pregnant?). Now I call every week. Even at that, I’m lucky if we talk more than once a month. Calls are short and all that’s left is, “is everyone all right? Is there a lot of fighting? Please stay safe.”
My brother-in-law told me Thursday that the fighting is heavy again. Day and night. I told him, “please be careful.” He laughed. He said, “ok. I will.” I’m afraid there’s no such thing anymore, no such thing as being careful.
I sent a message to my friend, “I’m hoping you are well. I spoke to my brother-in-law. It seems my entire family have left except for him and his sons. He says there’s a lot of fighting. Please take care of yourself and stay safe. God be with you.”
I sent that message on Wednesday. So far, I’ve had no reply.