Syria: Sad Mother's Day Celebrations, Amid Deportation, Displacement and Coronavirus
As if everyone were plotting against the mothers, especially the Syrian ones. Every year, a new reason is added to the sense of loneliness of the Syrian mothers, and this year the (Covid-19) virus came to increase this suffering.
Corona and quarantine
A respiratory pandemic that shook the world, including the Syrians, added a new feature to Mother's Day this year, as the spread of the pandemic forced countries to compel their citizens to quarantine to prevent the spread of the virus. This has increased the sense of loneliness of mothers in the camps and closed areas in Lebanon, Jordan and inside Syria in some areas.
Social media websites have replaced the means of communication instead of mutual visits. "This year, I wished a happy Mother’s Day to my mother via WhatsApp. We talked through video chatting and my children and I sent her kisses. My brothers and I could not visit my mother on Mother's Day. This year, the imposed quarantine due to the Coronavirus prevented us from reaching her. "
Forced displacement breaks the hearts of mothers
The presence of mothers within the same Syrian geographical location has not prevented the feeling of alienation from their children. The same country has become divided into a group of countries, after the displacement of more than 6 million people inside the country, and the deportation in several Syrian regions.
Muntaha Abdul Rahman, originally from al-Zabadani, was deported to Idlib after the agreement of the four cities (al-Zabadani - Madaya - al-Fouaa - Kafriya), while her three daughters stayed in her home city.
“I had no choice, either to stay next to my daughters under the authority of a regime that included my name on the list of ‘the most dangerous activists wanted by the security authorities in the region’, or to leave empty-handed, no family, no house and no home," said Muntaha, 40, to Rozana.
She added: "It has been nearly two years since I last saw my children who used to occupy all of my time and thought, and to whom I devoted all that was granted so that they could complete their education."
Nevertheless, Muntaha has not lost hope to see her daughters. She is trying to ease the pain of separation by communicating with them through social media websites. "I try to be close to them, and look into the tiniest details of their daily life, even those that they do not consider important, so that they feel that nothing has changed."
When there is no internet, she spends her night "awake" and feels "a state of self-blaming" because she is "not close to them."
Deportation buses took mothers' hearts with them
"I could not bid farewell to my four sons when they left Madaya. I couldn’t take the scene, when they were in the deportation buses, out of my mind for a moment," said Um Ahmad, 55, who lives in Madaya town in Damascus countryside.
Um Ahmad's four sons left their city in Damascus countryside after the regime forces took control of it. She expressed regret that she was unable to bid them farewell upon their departure from the city.
Umm Ahmad added that she is trying to overcome the feeling of longing by communicating with her sons on a daily basis through social media websites in order to somewhat ease the pain in her heart. She is always eager to know their living situation in order to be fully aware of their conditions.
Mothers’ celebration and children behind bars
Sawsan, who lives in Damascus, spends her days waiting at her house waiting for her husband and son (Ahmad) who were arrested by the regime in 2012. She even has refused to leave her house for seven years hoping that Ahmad will come one day. "Maybe (Ahmad) will come at any moment. I would be here to prepare and arrange his room, and prepare the bathroom for him to take a shower, as he might have spent a long time without taking a shower, and he is certainly craving a ‘Mahashi’ dish," she said to Rozana.
Sawsan, who is more than 50 years old, refused to travel with her only daughter outside Syria. She added: "I have used all means. I searched in most of the security branches and spoke to many government organizations, without getting any news about my husband and son’s location or whether or not they were alive." She stressed that "the wait-and-see situation is the most difficult. Sometimes I feel weak, and at moments I hope to know anything about them even if they are dead. Knowing about their fate is easier and lighter than waiting without a glimmer of hope."
Family reunification cards prevent Mothers’ Day!
Umm Uday is living with her husband and young son in Sweden, but her heart is with her son in Damascus. She told her story to Rozana: “I have four children, my daughter is in Germany, and my little son has arrived in Sweden and presented papers for reunification for me and my husband and daughter except for my son who stayed in Syria.”. Umm Uday is also trying to ease her longing for her son through social media.
She stated that she communicates with her son every day, and hopes “to meet her family soon so that she can enjoy Mother’s Day.”
Umm Uday added: “I hope I will meet my son in the upcoming days. Distance does not cool the warmth of the son’s feelings to his mother, who carried him 9 months and endured a lot of pain. The relationship between them is close and time cannot break it up.”
Umm Iyad, who lost her husband and son by regime snipers while they were going to work, immigrated to Sweden illegally. She started the reunification process for her son who was in Syria, but approval was delayed until her son exceeded the age of 18, which “dropped family reunification.”
Iyad tried to travel illegally to Sweden to meet her, and he reached Bulgaria, but the deportation decision was faster than seeing his mother, so he was deported back to Bulgaria, where he meets his mother from time to time.
“Heartburn is what I’m experiencing today because of the distance from my son. So, there is no Mother’s Day without hugging my son,” expressing her hope to see him “married and having his own family so that the joy will return to my heart,” she said to Rozana.
The grave is the mother’s shelter
Death is a part of a mother's pain. Umm Kamil spends a day every week near the graves of her two sons, Kamil and Hossam, who died in Jaramana, in the countryside of Damascus, after a mortar shell fell on their workplace.
She recalled the story: “Hossam was about to go out. I called him on his phone and he told me he was coming home. Why did he stay in the store? Why did he burn my heart, if I told him to hurry up he would have survived.”
Abu Kamil recounts the suffering of his wife: “She does not allow anyone to enter their room and she is still arranging their clothes periodically as if they were alive,” he added to Rozana: “My wife cannot accept their loss. I and my son and daughter still console her and try to get her out of this shock. She is a mother and she lost her oldest and youngest sons!”
Also in Jaramana, Hajja Hassna, who was displaced from the Arbin, Damascus countryside, and who lost her two sons and her husband, told Rozana: “My first son, whom I did not see for a year, died. They did not inform me until two weeks after his death, and when my second son died, they couldn't hide it, but I couldn't say goodbye to my sons.”
She blames herself for leaving Arbin, saying: “No one has to go out of his house, I did not know how they died, did they get hurt or did they suffered, or was it a quick death, I could not kiss them, and looked into their eyes for the last time, I will not hear the word “Oh Mom, be fine” after I lost them.”
As for Abeer, she still hopes that the news of her son Sami's death in the detention center is a “lie”, as she was told that he died in the prison and his papers were handed over without the body. “Every day, I feel my heart burnt. Mother’s Day is an ordinary day just like any other day in the year,” she said.
Abeer added: “I know it is foolish to have hope of Sami's return, especially after receiving the death statement, but I have not seen his body and I do not know where he was buried, and I have often heard stories of detainees and missing persons who have returned to life, perhaps Sami is one of them.” She stressed that her son “has always loved life. I do not think it would be easy that he left it between his jailers’ hands.”
Mothers keep carrying their children in their hearts and wombs even after birth, and the pain overwhelms them for children who are out of sight due to travel, detention or death.