I cannot describe my feeling from the moment I joined the convoy together with my wife and children until the moment of arrival. Days had passed before that, while we were waiting for our turn. Thousands of people gathered in the alleys between the destroyed buildings and barricades, waiting for their turn. All people there were equal; doctors, teachers, directors of organizations and poor people. All were waiting for their turn to get out. Many quarrels and disagreements occurred, which sometimes led to physical quarrels among those waiting for their turn and those who took the turn of others.
At 10 pm I was able to get on the bus with my wife and children. At first, there was a mix of feelings; sadness, fear, future, displacement, home, my children, where were we? Where are we going? What is waiting for us?
At the first checkpoint, a Russian officer got on the bus with a malicious smile. He said: Peace be upon you. No one answered. One of the Regime soldiers followed him and said “we want to search your luggage, those who have guns are allowed to have 2 magazines each. The search began, and frankly, they were respectful and fully obedient to the Russian officer who ordered them not to harass anyone.
The convoy began the journey after two-hour stop. My mind and soul started to walk behind those checkpoints overlooking the ruined mosque, Ghubair Mosque in Arbin, behind it, I left my parents and sister .They remained there, and I was not able to say goodbye to them.
My children were born during the revolution, Nour is five years old, and Ra’ed is two years old. They have never been in a bus. Their mother hugged them, they were happy thinking they were going in a picnic.
All my memories were recalled in my mind, memories of death, destruction and pain, memories of fear, hunger, poverty and siege. I smiled because I came out alive with my children. But what about the pre-war memories, what about my house, my land, my childhood and my neighbors, what about my parents. A heartbreak with a heartburn. I told myself I did not have options, getting out was not my choice.
After about 8 hours, we arrived at the beginning of the Syrian coast, Tartus. People began to look at the sea, all were suffering from a disturbance of feelings. Some of them cried, some were silent. There was someone was sleeping deeply.
My children did not know what that was. My wife took out her mobile and began to take photos. In general, you have to know that the convoy contained a mixture of contradictory people who do not have anything in common, except this displacement and sadness.
We entered then the mountainous areas, passing through villages full of the pictures of Bashar al-Assad and his brothers, the Regime flags, pictures of Putin and Hassan Nasrallah. Now we know, they brought us to villages loyal to al Assad and belong to his sect. We began to see on both sides of the road civilians and soldiers standing, insulting us with words and gestures, lifting military boots at our faces, and throwing our convoy with stones and dirt. It took us two hours to pass those villages.
There was a sense of humiliation and disappointment, are those our country partners, fellow citizens? They knew that most of the convoy people were children, women and civilians. Did we live with them peacefully before those seven years? My heart ached, and I was about to explode.
We arrived at the first liberated area, Qalaat al-Madiq, where I felt a little bit relieved of those scenes. There, we have started a new way, we did not know its end, or even its beginning, displaced in the north of Syria. Those who were waiting for us, institutions, organizations and civilians, received us with love. They took us to a close IDP camp. Now, I live in a camp with my wife and children.
Jihad, a former civil activist in the Eastern Ghouta.