Five Major Shifts in the Pattern of Syrian Life during War

Five Major Shifts in the Pattern of Syrian Life during War
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 After years of war, Syrians agree that nothing in their lives is as it was, including joy, sorrow, food, clothing, and marriage traditions.




The war in Syria has forced millions of people to change their place of residence in search of safety. Thousands of families have moved to into tents and small apartments.



Mrs. Jumana, displaced from Qaboun to the capital, Damascus, said to the magazine, "My house had three rooms and a hall, but today I live with my husband, my children, and my parents in a house consisting of two rooms and a hall. All my habits have changed and I am not fully independent. But we have no other choice, because our house was bombed and we miraculously survived.”


Kamal, a young man in his thirties and a resident of Antakya, commented, "In Aleppo I was independent and I lived in my own house, but today I have to live with my family again after 10 years."


Because of the constant bombardment by the Syrian and Russian air forces, residents of the countryside north of Aleppo have resorted to setting up tents on the outskirts of their villages, to escape to when the shelling intensifies.



Um Jamal, from Tal-Refaat, told the magazine, "We got a large tent from a humanitarian organization and my children put it up in an olive farm. We go to it early in the morning and come back in the evening to sleep in our house, hoping to escape the bombing during the day. This has been our situation for more than a year and a half." She added, "We moved the majority of our furniture into this tent, which has turned into an alternative home. I feel more secure in the tent than I do in my home."




According to United Nations figures, twelve million Syrians need humanitarian assistance, which means that more than half of Syrians are in need of help. This reflects the changes that have affected the life and customs of Syrians.  Thousands of children are suffering from lack of nutritious foods. Ali Omrani from Madaya, commented, "Many residents of besieged areas now live on herbs, and eat the meat of cats and dogs."


Ms. Um Ahmed, a resident of the Maysaloun neighborhood, under the regime's control in Aleppo, remarked, "My husband is a veterinarian and I'm a teacher. After prices rose, I re-organized our home habits. Now we eat two meals a day, one at twelve in the morning, and the second at seven in the evening. Everyone has specific rations. At lunch, I cook three dishes for each member of my family." She continued, "This rearrangement has given us a sufficient amount of food and has enabled us to participate in buying electricity for our house."


Um Ahmed remembers sadly, "Five years ago no one had trouble providing food for their families, even the poor Syrians. In the past, especially in the fall, I used to spend the whole season preparing for the winter pantry, but this year I could not prepare anything because prices got really high and I am afraid that I will have to flee my home and lose the money I paid stocking out the pantry. So today we buy food only in small amounts."




Many marriages begin today through the virtual world. Rima from Aleppo comments on her experience, "I loved my husband, and we were planning to have an engagement party in Aleppo, but he was arrested for seven months and then travelled directly to Turkey after his release. After nearly seven months, he called my father to propose to me, but my father refused because he did not know him. Eventually my uncle convinced him to accept the proposal.”


Rima continues, “My mother and father talked with my fiancé for the first time via Skype, but the picture was not clear. My brothers and I had an engagement party via Skype. I wore a dress and we played music, danced and celebrated, and on the opposite side, he celebrated with his friends in his house, and we wore our engagement rings. No one believed that we had an engagement party until they watched the videos. Later, I traveled from Aleppo to Lebanon, Turkey. We have established a small group of close friends away from our parents and our relatives. My friends are my family, because war has broken up my family. My father and mother live in Tartus, and my brothers are studying at Damascus University. Many people think my engagement and marriage are strange, but I'm happy about it. I feel like we had a moment of joy amid the destruction and war."


The tradition of marriage has changed dramatically in the city of Aleppo, which was famous for its preparations and celebrations before the conflict, while now things are less complicated. Qamar told the magazine, "In the past, young men from Aleppo asked the bride’s family for a dowry. The majority of the families are no longer asking for anything; even the house is no longer a requirement. The war has made too many residents of the city move.”



Qamar adds, "Even engagement and wedding celebrations are no longer held in public places, but rather in the privacy of homes. Weddings start at one in the afternoon and end at five in the afternoon. In the past, weddings ended at five in the morning. Brides borrowed dresses or leased them from private shops. Many also are buying only engagement rings and borrow gold ornaments from their relatives, or their mothers' gold just for the celebration."




Syrians who are fortunate enough to work consistently, or who have found jobs in neighboring countries, are trying to save money to help themselves and those close to them if necessary.


Jamil, a young man from Hama, tells the magazine, "Previously I used to spend half my salary on clothes. I would buy well-known brands and not even think about it. But now I have started buying from used clothing stores and flea markets, I am content with fewer, less nice clothes. I try to save part of my salary because I do not know what fate has in store.”



Noor, who works at a private company in Homs, remarks, "I try to save a lot but the high cost of living leaves little room for it.  Prices have doubled five times and there has been no increase in wages. I try to save a bit of money to help me if I want to travel outside Syria, but with the US dollar equaling 400 Syrian pounds, and my salary being 30 thousand pounds, I could only save $20, even if I were able to save 8 thousand Syrian pounds a month."


Maher, a young man working for a humanitarian organization in Zaatari refugee camp, Jordan, tells the magazine, "I live a life of austerity to send $200 to my family in Damascus, and save $300 for myself to secure the transit fare to Europe in case I lose my job here." He adds, "Such is our life, permanently thinking about securing our daily needs and continuously fearing the future and what's in store for us. Everything has changed in my life, even my simplest interests."






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