How We’aam Smuggled Herself out of Syria

“I wish I could be back in Syria but the situation is too bad for anyone to go there and it would seem suspicious for me to go back after leaving,” confessed We’aam as she fiddled with the ends of her hijab. “Life in Jordan feels choking and I want a better life for me and my family.” We’aam’s journey from Syria to Amman is turbulent, but it is not unusual for someone fleeing the chaos of the Syrian civil war.

In 2013, the war reached We’aam’s home in Syria. “They started raining down bombs and missiles on the area I was living in. My house was hit, which caused the death of my brother-in -law,” she recounted. We’aam attempted to leave immediately with her family, but there were barriers at every corner. “My husband sent me out with some people who had a car and were escaping, he told me, ‘go, I’ll pack our stuff and follow you,’” she said. “When he wanted to leave the area he couldn’t; the roads out of the city were closed off. They surrounded [the city] and no one was able to leave. My husband was stuck there for about two months.”

We’aam volunteers in the SuperGirls program at CRP. She requested to not be photographed facing the camera, as she continues to fear the Syrian police.

We’aam spent those two months alone with her two children, not knowing whether her husband was still alive. “My husband was supposed to follow only two hours after we left. In that time they closed off the road with tanks and the police force didn’t let anyone out,” she murmured. “During that time, people left through negotiations with the police force or through the UNHCR. The people had nothing to eat at the time to the point that they would pick the grass off the ground and try to make something with it.”

UN forces negotiated a civilian rescue, and We’aam’s husband was released. After reuniting, We’aam and her husband decided to flee to Jordan. They were eventually smuggled into the Zaatari Camp, where they stayed for a week before being smuggled again into Amman.

Arriving in Amman proved to be a jolt rather than a relief for We’aam and her family. “When I got to Amman I was scared,” she admitted. “I started crying because it was so overwhelming to be in a new city that I knew nothing about. We stayed in an apartment for about seven months, then we went to another apartment. At this point our situation started getting better, and I had two more kids while in Jordan.” The family now lives in Hashemi Shamali, the neighborhood in eastern Amman where CRP is located.

While her life in Jordan has stabilized, We’aam has her sights on a future overseas. “My husband found a low-paying job, but our main goal is to leave Jordan,” she admitted. “I want to secure a future for my children, schools here are really bad and my husband’s job is exhausting and rent is really high.”

We’aam has been part of our community for a month and half. She spends her time volunteering with our SuperGirls program, and enjoys the opportunity to empower young girls.

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