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A traveler between two worlds

Listen to the letter here


Dear world, 

This is not a love letter; this is my story. 

I am a 25-years-old Syrian woman, and the war showed me that sometimes hardships can also turn into blessings. 

When I was 17-years-old, I went to visit my friend after school. She was my best friend, and we would always meet up after school either at her house or mine. Today I was the one heading to her place which was close to my house. My parents did not mind me going there because of this, even though the war was already raging.  Thankfully, our neighborhood was still safe, and the fighting was still far away from our city. We didn’t feel like there was a war going on nearby, it was normal, for us at least. 

That day, I went to her house so that we could study together. Her parents were not home, they usually aren’t, because both of them work... But that day, her older brother was home, which was odd because he was rarely around. He was watching TV when I arrived. We went straight to her room, and we started studying after some gossiping; of course! An hour later, she left the room and told me she would be back in five minutes. But soon after, her room door opened and it was her brother. I didn’t know what to say, so I just stared at him, he entered the room, locked the door behind him, and abused me. 

My life changed after that day... After the encounter, my friend never returned to her room even though I waited for her. When I got back home, I did not say a word to my parents. I took a shower and locked myself up in my room.  I pretended I was sick and stayed in my room for a whole week, but then my mother sent me to school by force, not realizing what had happened to me. I didn’t know what to do when I got to school. My friend saw me there, and she just kept walking without saying a word. That was when I knew that my very best friend had betrayed me. I tried my best to act “normal” in order to protect myself. We always heard about similar stories, and the girl would usually get killed or even worse, married off to her rapist. 

I decided to stay silent and live my life as best as I could. I really wanted to finish my education and build a bright future for myself. It was only after six weeks that I realized that my period was already three weeks late, and I didn’t need to go to the doctor to know why. I was pregnant, unmarried and I was carrying the child of my rapist. 

I felt that death was knocking on my door, or even worse, that I would be married off to the man who hurt me. I quickly hatched out a plan. You see, after the war broke out, Syria was separated into many small entities. Each territory had its own rules and systems. The different entities were no longer connected to each other under one flag... It was like they each became different countries... I decided to go somewhere where nobody knew me, and I did. 

In the darkness of the night, I packed my small backpack with only a few things. I couldn’t take a suitcase with me, I had to only carry the essentials so that I would remain unnoticed during my risky journey. And so, I became a traveler in my own country, but it felt like another world. After three days of staying off main roads, dodging checkpoints, and only traveling at night, I arrived at my final destination. 

I arrived at a displacement camp where nobody knew my name. That first night, I slept right outside of the camp behind some trees. In the morning, I saw a woman walking by with her child. She had a very kind face, and I did something I never thought I could do. I made up a story and told her that I escaped a village that was bombed and where my husband was killed. I had always been a good actor, and she believed me.   

She took me back to her caravan, fed me, and allowed me to take a shower. After that, she took me to the camp’s registration office where they would provide displaced people with a place to stay, as well as food and psychosocial support.  

Little did I know, the woman who took me in had herself been recently widowed by the war... She said I could stay with her until I found a place to stay...A year and a half later, here I am with my baby boy, still living with my savior whom I now think of as my older sister. This is definitely not how I imagined my life would happen, two years ago... but I truly believe that certain trials in life can still bring about glimmers of hope. For me, it is the child that I carry every day in my arms... 

Yours warmly,  

The girl with a child