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Children under fire in Syria

“It is war. Some houses in our area were bombed. The night before we fled, a plane attacked our neighbourhood. It was very dark. We were all hiding. The noise was very loud so I stayed awake. We all laid flat on the floor for hours.”  

15-year-old Mussa looked war in the eye. One day, Mussa’s school was destroyed by aerial bombardment. The war came too close for the family to stay in their hometown Aleppo. Together with his ten brothers and sisters, Mussa fled to northern Lebanon.  

Killed without any reason

The next morning, Mussa and his family left the family home in a rush. “On the road I saw houses in rubble and burned-out cars. I saw massacres: people and children killed without any reason.” He pauses, thinks and then whispers: “On the road I also saw a small body of a dead baby without a head. When we passed that, I had to close my eyes.” 

Once he arrived in Lebanon, his father built a tent from wood and plastic. “We could not take anything. There was no time,” Mussa explains. “Things are good here. At least I don’t hear bombs at night and I don’t have to be afraid we will be killed. In Syria I was awake every night for at least two months because of all the scary sounds. Here I sleep better, but I do have nightmares.”  

He explains he has the same nightmare almost every night: “I am in a car with beheaded people and I am the only one still alive.” Then he suddenly stops talking. “When I wake up crying, my mum comes to comfort me. “  

Try to forget

At home Mussa never talks about what he saw. “We try to forget about it; it is our secret.” He participates in IDEAL three times a week and he explains how this helps him to forget. “I really try to put it away; we play and laugh and have fun. Always when I draw, I draw a happy family. After school I give it to my mum and it makes her very happy.” At school he made new friends. “Yes, I have lots of them, both Syrian and Lebanese. My new best friend is Lebanese. We play but we don’t talk much.”

Mussa was not able to finish the school year in Syria. “There were times we could hear the planes flying over my school. Everyone got scared and many didn’t come back to class.” Mussa has no idea whether his house in Syria is still standing. “I miss my house, my school and my nice clothes. And of course I miss my best friend Basel. I have no idea where he is. When we left, I saw that his house was still standing so that’s good.”

Where I belong

“I understand that we are here because it is safer but I miss my country; that’s where I belong and I hope to go back very soon. When I grow up I want to help to rebuild my country. I am sure there will be a lot of work for me there.”  

Disclaimer: for safety reasons the name of the boy has been changed.  

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