Idlib Calling | 6 mei 2020 | 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.
Every day, people get killed in air strikes and shelling by the Syrian and Russian armies. Children die covered in dust and debris. The war in Idlib is primarily a war against civilians.
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: I’m a liar

Wednesday, May 6

I haven’t spoken to Ahmed much in recent weeks. And of course the few times we did talk it was about corona. Corona here in the Netherlands, but also corona in Idlib. I didn’t dare bring up the fact that a few months ago he had fled head over heels from his home in Saraqeb. And frankly, I had also already forgotten about it a bit. Too concerned with the virus and everything surrounding it.

 

“Hi Ahmed, sorry that I haven’t called much. I guess I’ve been too busy with my own worries. ”

“I get it, don’t worry. I’m glad you called.”

“Ahmed, how is it going in Saraqeb? Do you have any idea? Is it OK for me to ask you that?”

“You’re not alone. My daughters ask me every day. I tell them we’re on a kind of holiday here, that there are beautiful rivers here and that everything is better here. I don’t dare tell them the truth … so I weave some nice stories together. I cry inside, but I don’t let them see it. I’m a liar. I can’t help it, you know?”

“My oldest daughter can tell that things aren’t quite right. She asked me if we were here because of the soldiers.”

“But I can’t bring myself to tell them that Saraqeb is a ghost town.”

“If only we could go back. That the houses are destoryed; OK, we can fix that. And that we would live in tents, also a pain, but at least it’s on our own land. We wouldn’t be guests or refugees, but we’d be at home.”

“But now I’m here in Azaz. I’ve found a job and I’m even thinking about starting up the puppet show and theater again. I’m still only thinking about it, but when the time comes I’ll let you know.”

“Let’s call each other more often. Be well! ”

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