(1/5)“All my life I have had one big dream and that is to become an engineer. My uncle used to fix communication systems such as phones and Walkie Talkies. Once he took a phone apart and gave it to me. I wanted to understand each part of the phone, I was completely fascinated. After finishing high school, I got accepted by the University of Aleppo to study Control Engineering. That was probably the happiest year of my life, Finally I was getting closer to pursue my dream to become an engineer. We had heard about the Arab Spring in Syria but we didn’t discus it in public. To express your opinion on politics was simply too dangerous. Then the Arab Spring came to Syria. First it started only in a few places but soon afterwards the protests were everywhere. I saw on Youtube how protestors got brutally beaten up and some were even killed. When I got to the second year of university the protests started in Aleppo where I lived. I remember that one time a group of students secretly organized a demonstration at the university. One of the protesters was caught by three policemen and they crushed his head with sticks. That was the first time I witnessed violence. Sometimes I feel ashamed that I didn’t participate. I did want to stand up for all those people who were killed but I was too scared.

In spite of all the violence from the government people kept on protesting. By the time the school year ended our town was invaded by the Free Syrian army. That was supposed improve the situation but actually it just got worse. Soon bombs were falling all over the place. Half of the city was destroyed and many people became homeless and lost their jobs. My dad is a contractor and my mum a dentist but they were no longer able to get to their workplace so they stayed at home. Going to school was the only thing that made me feel like a normal human being. I had no social life. After school I would go home straight away so my parents wouldn’t worry. We would have three hours of electricity per day so at night we all sat together in the living room which was lit by a candle, talking and playing board games. Strangely enough that was quite cozy. There is this saying in English: “Misery loves company”. We were miserable and afraid for our lives but we did have each other.“

More stories?

By buying this book you are directly contributing to the continuation of Humans of Amsterdam.

See more

3/3 “I always wanted to learn how to play basketball so I googled: How to play basketball? in Arabic. I only got English search results so that is when I realized I needed to learn English. Since I only had an education until the age of 9, a lot of basic things like...

2/3 ''My friend told me that my youngest brother got murdered. He got into trouble with a group of criminals in Aleppo and they killed him. I immediately packed my stuff and I went back to Aleppo for the funeral. The next day, after the funeral my father and...

(4/4) "Years later, we found out, through a reconstruction based on stories from different people, that Sadif was seen carrying Enesa through the forest while she was already dead. People had told him to leave her body behind. Sadif had told them that he wouldn’t...