Photo Credits: WFP/Dina El Kassaby
"My name is Badreya. I am 26 years old and I come from the town of Ar-Raqqa in northern Syria.
The entire area is a hell on earth today and the remaining inhabitants are besieged and trapped - unable to escape to safer parts of the country.
I still miss my life and country terribly: the spring breeze, laughter, family lunches…but the Syria I know and love is history now.
I’m afraid to return and see for myself the devastation my mother-in-law describes. She’s still in Syria and I worry about her. She’s old now and immobile, so she couldn’t come to Lebanon with us four and a half years ago, but she insisted that we leave for our children’s sake.
I married when I was 17 and we moved to Darayya in Rural Damascus so we could be close to her. My mother-in-law treated me like her own daughter, she spoiled me and took me with her everywhere she went.
I was her pride and joy and I felt like a queen. I was so happy. My fondest memories with her are in the kitchen where she taught me to cook dishes like Asheh – a special homemade Syrian sausage made with rice and spiced meat.
We usually have Asheh on special occasions like Eid or on Fridays when all of our relatives would come to the house and eat together. Even though she did most of the cooking, she would tell everyone that I cooked it myself and my husband would kiss my hands in front of everyone.
It was so easy to laugh in those days. Now, I live in a tent with my husband and our five children in a dismal camp in the Bekaa Valley. I hate it here. Both of our sisters and their families were evicted by their landlords because they couldn’t afford to pay rent. They live with us too now.
We try to wake up before sunrise and sneak out of the tent, leaving our husbands and kids asleep. The three of us sip coffee and chat. It’s the only downtime we get all day.
When the sky starts to light up, my sister tells us to close our eyes and listen. The sound of the birds reminds us of Syria. I thank God that we’re together and safe in Lebanon, but I do pity myself for our misfortune.
How can life be so beautiful one day and turn this ugly the next? We have no heating, no running water, I don’t have enough money to feed my children and relatives every day, and people in Lebanon are sick of us being here.
Life is getting too hard to bear and I feel I have forgotten what happiness feels like."
A story by Dina El-Kassaby. This story was originally published as part of the #IAMSYRIAN series.