Imad from Douma. 35 years old – Forced Displacement

On 23 of March, after a heavy bombing attack on al Ghouta, and after Faylaq al-Rahman signed an agreement with Russia to get out towards Idlib, I was able to register our names in order to get out of al Ghouta. The main reason was my nine month pregnant wife, and I was worried she would give birth in Douma, especially that we had only one gynecologist in Douma, the others had left, and my wife’s situation required only a caesarean section. I decided to try my best to take the first bus, but we could not.
On the first of April, our departure was decided. I brought a car for my wife, and we went towards the camp checkpoint and thus started our displacement journey.
I was afraid that my wife would give birth on the road, which would be a disaster, but thankfully we arrived in a good state to Qalaat al-Madiq. I had previously contacted my friends from Idlib and asked them to bring an ambulance as soon as we arrived, and indeed I found them waiting for me. There were many people; Civic Defense and relief organizations staff. The welcoming was very good, and my friends told me they had found a home for me in Ariha. We went there. It was sunrise time, and the road made me forget about everything. On our way to Qalaat al-Madiq I kept thinking about almost everything, but on our way to Ariha, I did not think of anything because the beauty of nature, the hospitality and the comfortable psychological state I was in, because we arrived safe, made me dream and see only the green roads and nature. The road from Qalaat al-Madiq to Ariha took about two hours.
We went to the hospital, thank God my wife gave birth to a boy, and we called him Nasser. For me it was a victory, because we arrived safely, and with the new baby I felt that I owned the world. My wife woke up from the anesthesia, and our friends immediately brought a breakfast that we had not seen for years, and brought natural juice and fruit, and my children were so happy with that. My little daughter did not know what she was eating. By the way, I did not personally know my friends from Ariha but I worked with an organization, and they were coworkers. They treated me like a brother and more, and this is a proof of nobility and generosity.
When my wife left the hospital, we went to the house that my friends had found for us. The house was beautiful, well equipped and has a nice view. We were very tired, and fell asleep soon.
The next morning my friend came and we drove out to take a tour. We heard the sound of a warplane striking the city. I felt terrified, I know Idlib is exposed to bombing but it terrified me because it happened the next day of our arrival. My friend said that for several days the regime had been focusing on Ariha. We continued our way, and I was thinking how I would tell my friend that I do not want to stay in a place that may be exposed to bombing but I told him at last.
I asked my friend to go back home, because I was worried about my wife and children, who were absolutely terrified. I returned and found them afraid as I expected, they immediately asked me to move.
My older brother was also displaced, but he was in the middle sector, and had left two weeks before us, and he had settled in Sarmada. I called him and asked him to find us a house there because the northern areas were less exposed to bombing, as people told me. The road to Sarmada was long, and we saw wide agricultural lands. We arrived in Sirmada, and the city was crowded as if there was no war. I felt bad to see how people were living, while we were dying, but after all, people were not able to do anything. My brother received me, I had not seen him during the bombardments because he was in the central sector with his wife, children and our mother, and I was in Douma. The meeting was very sad, and the hardest thing was meeting my mother, I cried like a child, my joy could not be described for seeing her.
Of course I was surprised with the prices, and the kinds of food available, so how did my children feel. Their questions and demands did not end. Rana, my daughter told me she wanted to go to the supermarket and buy what she wanted. We went there, and I saw things I had not seen for years. My daughter was lost among biscuits, chips and sweets. We filled a large bag, and it was priced at 1500 Syrian pounds (less than $ 4). I asked for recalculation, sure there was a mistake. In al Ghouta, 1500 Syrian pounds buy only two pieces or three. Here you can live on this sum for a whole day.
In my brother’s neighborhood, there were new buildings of no more than 3 years. I felt nostalgic for my job, being an assistant engineer, and I thought I would leave the organization work and return to my original work, for which I studied for years. I have not started yet because me and my wife decided to take a break of no less than two months, so that we can comprehend what happened and rest a little.
Finally, what I have seen in Idlib so far is beautiful and wonderful, except for the same stories that were occurring in al Ghouta “factions fighting”. This was what destroyed al Ghouta and this could destroy Idlib too. This made me think of leaving to Turkey and get rid of everything because I was so tired of war. But after a long discussion with my wife, mother and brother we decided to stay in Sarmada, or in areas near the Turkish border, so that we could flee immediately if needed.
Imad from Douma. 35 years old, an assistant civil engineer, married with 4 children.