The Forgotten Spirit of Syria by CAAD student Lana Alsakka-Amini

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Rama runs in Ibn ‘Asaker street in Damascus, Syria.

It was a harsh winter in Syria. The crispy air, the dry tree branches, and the darkness of the sky made Syria’s winters even gloomier than they already were.  

It was December 2016. 

I gazed at the enchantingly old-fashioned windows in my grandmother’s house, seeing the rain trickle down the window film, smelling the fresh scent of petrichor. The peeling walls and the withering away of paint reminded me of the importance of this house and its countless memories with my loved ones and of those special ones who have passed away. Due to the winters in Syria being so harsh, my sister and I decided to help some Syrian families who may be suffering from the numerous hardships of the cold winter in a place filled with injustice and depravity. We walked towards a neighborhood in the city of Damascus called Dimar Al Balad, in Ibn ‘Asaker street. We saw a hollow and narrow street filled with clustered small traditional Syrian houses.

I saw energetic children bump into each other and communicate with each other through made up games like passing rocks to one another. I saw fireflies in their eyes; they seemed so bright with creativity and optimism that was forgotten and abandoned in this hopeless place. Their hope and courage are the backbone of Syria’s resilience. I still hear their sweet laughter. They resembled small butterflies trying to escape the realities of the war.

 I remember walking on the rugged street with its bumpy and coarse grounds. As we pass by the various homes, I saw the wreckage and the ruins that have permanently damaged their homes. The insurmountable wreckage was beyond words, their windows slammed open with shattered glass and missing doors. One child caught my eye; she was wearing worn out slippers, a thin jacket, with a pair of largely fitted grey jeans. She looked about 10 years of age. She had tired eyes, with a slightly yellowish complexion. Her body was so fragile and bony, her hands smeared with dirt and mud. 

Her mother was waiting patiently outside the house, calling her daughter’s name “My dear Rama, come inside. Stop running around.” 

My sister and I slowly asked to take a photograph of her child, and as she was running, I took this photograph of her. We gave her a teddy bear and a blanket to stay warm for the winter. The child’s face lit up as she was opening her gift bag; I could see her beautifully crooked smile. I felt a warm sensation in my heart that was indescribable. 

The civil war in Syria has stolen the freedom and the sense of belonging of most Syrians, resulting in a senseless destruction of people’s lives.  But, Rama smiled.