Idlib Calling | 18 december 2018 | by Evert-Jan Grit

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Meet Ahmed, theater producer from Saraqeb, and friend and partner of PAX. His life is no bed of roses. Saraqeb is in the Syrian province of Idlib, in the northwest of the country. Idlib's future is, to say the least, uncertain.
Russia and Turkey have imposed a demilitarized zone in order to separate the Syrian Army and armed militias.
A couple of times a month we speak with Ahmed to hear how he and his family are getting on. He says its important for people in Idlib that we here in the Netherlands hear about what's happening. It makes them feel like they haven't been forgotten.

Idlib Calling: children, not wives!

Tuesday 18 December

I couldn’t reach Ahmed for the last week. I saw that he wasn’t online, not on WhatsApp or on Facebook. I was getting worried, so I asked a Syrian friend in Amsterdam to find out what was going on. The news came quickly – everything was OK.

Ahmed, I’ve been trying to reach you for a while – where have you been?

“I saw that you were trying to reach me. Nothing’s wrong, it’s just that my phone was broken. I couldn’t use it for three days. So, nothing to worry about.”

Well, I was worried. Sorry I got so worked up.

“Don´t worry about it. Actually, it´s nice to know you were worried – it shows you were thinking about me. Shall I tell you what we’re up to? ”

“We’re working on making a video against child marriages. That’s increasingly common here, children getting married. People are too poor to take care of their children, so they marry their girls off at a younger and younger age. Some girls are married off when they´re 13 or 14 years old. I´ve got two daughters myself, so this really hits me.”

“We’re starting a campaign to talk with parents and to point out the health hazards for the girl, but that she’s entitled to education. We visit the parents, we make leaflets and we’ll use the film once it’s finished.”

“We’re also painting graffiti on the walls here in Saraqeb. For example: tiffalate, la zawgaat! (children, not wives!). ”

“The underlying problem is poverty. You know where we stand on that issue. Consciousness is important, but if people don’t see a way out … parents often tell me, “Fine, give us money and we’ll let our children go to school.” How can you respond? We can’t do much except remind them or their responsibility as parents. And sometimes that helps.”

“The movie should be done soon. Shall I send it to you when its ready? ”

Gladly. But it’s almost vacation here. I’ll keep an eye on my phone. Will you let me know when it’s there?

“Sure, and wish everyone there a happy holiday and a happy New Year from us!”



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