I like my local vegetable market because they hire a lot of young Syrian guys, and sweeping & stocking the shop is one of only a handful of jobs that aren’t off-limits to refugees. One of my highlights of living in the ME is getting to know the great guys that work there.
A new guy just started, and like the rest of the guys here, he’s very friendly and patient with my Arabic. The other day, I asked about his family.
He replied, “Bi Hasakah” (They’re in Hasakah).
Hasakah is a rough place right now.
It’s a city (and province) in Northeast Syria that has been an ISIS/Daesh stronghold and battle field between ISIS, Kurdish and Syrian forces. ISIS lost control of Hasakah last year, but continues to launch assaults–one as recent as last week–to regain control. The UN estimates that over 120,000 people have been displaced from their homes, which doesn’t include over 30,000 that fled just this past February.
So, my new friend still has family in Hasakah while he works a crap job to send anything he can back to them.
For me, this is what first comes to mind when I think of the war in Syria
–not terrorists and flags and bombs and ugly violence
(though that comes in second)
…but first, I think about guys like this guy
–regular folks torn from home, with no solid prospects for the future, fortunate to get a bottom-rung job just to keep going.
I know a lot of guys like him.