WIDER IMAGE Crisis of the generations: young Syrians come of age in a decade of conflict
Trainee flight attendant Ghenwa, engineering student Ali and electronic music DJ Jawad are part of a generation of young Syrians who came of age during the war.
They live in the capital Damascus, which has been spared the heavy bombardments that destroyed opposition strongholds like Aleppo, but the lives of those over twenty are far from normal.
A decade of conflict, Western sanctions, a financial collapse in neighboring Lebanon, and now the global pandemic, have hit the Syrian economy and a currency crash has caused shortages of essential commodities like wheat and fuel in the territory. government.
Economic hardship aside, their access to the rest of the world has also been severely restricted, leaving them unlikely to leave the country for work or leisure.
Freedom to travel was the main reason why Ghenwa decided to train as a flight attendant, after dropping out of the university where she was studying architecture.
“I am Syrian and cannot travel at the moment except through this opportunity,” said Ghenwa, who, like others who spoke to Reuters about this story, only used her first name for security reasons. .
“It’s the only opportunity that makes me feel like I can go faster … to feel the freedom of borders.”
Away from his hometown of Sweida in southern Syria, Ghenwa has had to work multiple jobs to support himself, ranging from working with children with cancer to modeling.
She finds a sense of liberation with her friends who share a passion for electronic music.
“We are thirsty for happiness,” said Jawad, 24, an electronic music DJ who returned in 2019 to a Syria he barely recognized, after spending years of war in Dubai for his safety.
Jawad, who studied business administration, says music is his escape from the harsh realities of the country he returned to.
“It was a big shock, everything without lights … no electricity but despite all the exhaustion and sadness on people’s faces, we are hopeful that everything will be fixed,” he said. .
Like Ghenwa, his dream is also to travel and see the world, but as a young Syrian any hope of getting a visa for Europe is dashed.
Unable to go on vacation to Spain, he watches documentaries about the country instead with his friends online, an escape from the less uplifting regular TV news programs.
“It’s ironic,” he says.
Yara, 33, a lawyer by day and music DJ by night, lives alone with her parents after three of her siblings move abroad.
She had a busy life between her job, yoga, cooking and her passion for music, but now she says she can only handle one task a day.
“Put fuel in my car, for example, after hours of waiting in a line,” she says.
Yara preferred to stay in Syria throughout the conflict despite the dangers involved.
“I didn’t like the way other countries treated Syrians, so I didn’t want to lose the respect I have here, have pity on people who don’t know anything about us, even if that meant living my life in danger. . “
Yara was near the Damascus courthouse during a suicide bombing in 2017.
“It was a horrible experience … seeing the corpses of your colleagues around you and at the same time needing to help the injured and transport them to the hospital.”
Like Yara, Ali, a 25-year-old college student, says he could talk for days about the things that affected him during the war.
“Not a day has passed without taking something from us,” he said.
“It was a bad experience living in a war zone for what is supposed to be the best ten years of your life.”
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