Written by: Laura Gilmour - http://lauragilmour.wordpress.com
Buoyed by the hope that I might actually be able to do something useful for the organisation I witnessed the birth of, I headed north to visit two families recently escaped over the border from Syria and in need of our help.
My friend briefly outlined Ahmad’s story, telling me that he had been shot in the leg and subsequently had to have it amputated. He had bribed the border police to make sure he had the necessary papers to permit him a legal crossing into Jordan (ie confirming that he was not part of the Free Syrian Army (FSA) or that his injury had anything to do with the revolution) and was now waiting for his fiancee to follow him to Amman. He had asked our group, CIDS (Concerned Individuals for Displaced Syrians) to help him organise their wedding. We all jumped at the chance to do something positive that would boost morale and the campaign and set off with our cameras hoping to make a short documentary. In my excitement at seeing this tiny glimmer of light in an otherwise desperately bleak and sickening situation, I arrived unprepared to face the horrors that met us.
Ahmad got engaged a year ago but was shot the day before the planned wedding leaving him bed-ridden for eight months. Whilst working at a field hospital which he had started up with a friend, he was attacked by three Iranians working for the regime. As he attempted to escape being bundled into the back of a truck, some snipers opened fire and shot him in the foot.
He was operated on many times in Syria but the wound continued to deteriorate. He told us how pro-government doctors deal with FSA soldiers by putting them under anaesthetic and amputating their hands (without consent and completely unnecessarily), injecting them with gasoline or just putting them straight in the morgue and, after a few hours, throw them out in the street. After his lucky escape into Jordan, he was operated on almost immediately and is making a good recovery.
Ahmad explained how he’d been peaceful for the first eight months of revolution. It was when he saw pro-government troops kill a child right in front of him, that he joined the FSA. Just then a tiny two year old ran into the room giggling ‘Baba’, hoping to be picked up by Fawzi, his father. There was an awkward fumbling motion before the child was swept up by his mother. Fawzi’s hands had been blown off in a mortar explosion.
Seeing our cameras, Ahmad and Fawzi offered to take us north to show us where weapons are buried at the border to be picked up on the other side. They know at what points the government patrols take a 15 minute break when rebels can pick up the weapons. Um Ahmad, his mother, clucked disapprovingly at this. She may not condone the smuggling of weapons, but has played no small part in the revolution herself. In the midst of spreading out a feast prepared just for us (another very humbling part of this meeting) she pulled herself up to her full height and proudly explained how she is wanted in Syria for her very active part in the revolution: organising many protests and collecting aid. Her house was always open for followers of the revolution and anyone in need of support.
Women in general have played a vital part in the revolution: less likely to arouse suspicion, they have more freedom to move unnoticed. Driving around in the cars smoking and playing music they secretly transported medicines and food. They were protected by the FSA but, if caught by the government, would be imprisoned and tortured or killed immediately.
In Jordan, Um Ahmad continues to cook and sell food to raise money for medicine for refugees here and at home. She is receiving much support, now aided by a kibbeh maker and fridge donated by local NGOs.
Information on CIDS and how you can help can be found at http://www.facebook.com/CIDS.JO
(All names have been changed to protect identity)