By Meryem Goktas
AZAZ, Syria (AA) - As conflict continues in war-torn Syria, a family living under the harsh conditions of war seeks to have a brighter future that comes with peace.
While the world marks International Day of Peace on Sept. 21, a Syrian family continues to struggle for survival in tents in the rural area of northern Azaz province of Syria.
Speaking to Anadolu Agency, Muhammad Ahmad, the father-of-six, said that to him, peace means to return to his hometown.
With the start of the conflict, Ahmad said, he lost many of his relatives, friends, his home and car.
“We have nothing but just our family left,” he said, stating that his only goal is to provide his children with a bright future.
“The moment we left our house, there was no peace, freedom, security and future left for us. Peace will only mean something to us when we will return to our home, we cannot speak about peace while we are far away from home,” Ahmad said.
He said that peace still stays as an "unreachable dream" as the conflict entered its ninth year in March 2019.
Ahmad said that his family moved from place to place before settling in the tent camp in Azaz.
The first time they were forced to move was after a rocket hit their house, he said, adding: “My son Ali got so scared [after the attack] that he lost his ability to speak for a long time.”
Later, as the Assad regime came closer to his hometown Safira, Ahmad had to flee the region with his family to Al-Bab, from where they were also forced to move again after Daesh took control of the region.
According to the UN, there are 6.2 million people, including 2.5 million children, displaced within Syria, the biggest internally displaced population in the world.
“After a long time of struggle, I came to the northern parts of Syria. When we came here we had to start our lives from the scratch,” he said.
“I could not find a house, humanitarian aid organizations gave us a tent but this was not enough for my family, With my own means, I bought another two tents,” he added.
Speaking about the struggles his family went through during the time of displacement, Ahmad said that despite the pain, he is grateful that his family is united.
“Life passes, we get old, our goal is a brighter future for our children. There is no peace for our children in these tents. Our children will only live in peace and will have a future when we return to our home,” he said.
The 45-year-old said that before he was forced to leave home, he was working in agriculture before he was forced to leave.
“Even it is not my profession, but I started to work on construction here,” he said, noting that he had to continue to provide for his family.
- Hope for brighter future
His wife, Marwa said that she is glad her husband is alive, being the breadwinner of the family who takes care of her and their children’s needs.
“I have lost many relatives in this war,” she said, adding the war left deep wounds on her.
“For my children’s future, this war needs to end,” she said.
Speaking about her children, Marwa said that her 10-year-old son Ali was the one most affected by the continuous displacement.
Ali, for his part, said he does not remember any day under peace.
“I don’t know what peace means. My father always tells us stories about our house in Safira and our relatives and the neighborhood we lived in. I do not remember in what environment we used to live in,” he said.
Ali said that he only remembers moving from one place to another, adding that he would like to live in a house rather than tents, which get cold and muddy in winters.
“They say peace is beautiful,” he said with a curious smile on his face.
Despite the war, Ali said he still dreams of becoming a teacher one day.
“I want to take care of children, but mainly I want to help my father because he gets very tired,” he said.
Syria has just emerged from a devastating civil war that began in 2011 when the Assad regime cracked down on pro-democracy protests with unexpected ferocity.
Since then, hundreds of thousands of people have been killed in the conflict, according to UN figures.