Dalal

My home does not exist anymore.


Dalal, 44 (Azraq Refugee Camp, Jordan)

Dalal has dark, warm eyes and a long thin face, shrouded in a navy-blue headdress. She has seen a lot, and the wrinkles around her eyes run deep. As her hometown of Homs in Syria suffered the depredations of conflict, food and water became limited, and then virtually stopped. Neighbours and friends left. She and her husband reluctantly came to realize that their children may not be safe, and decided they had to move to a place with less gunfire.

“My home does not exist anymore.”

Two of her daughters, already married, had left with their husbands to go to Jordan. But Dalal hesitated. Her third daughter was recently married and is living with her new family in Syria. For Dalal, splitting her family apart was torture, but it was happening already. She couldn’t stop it.

Every day, Dalal repeats to herself words on the virtue of patience from her mother, who died at age 50 when Dalal was 16. “You have to wait until the right time.” “You can see it through.” “Don’t force things.” “Tomorrow can be different.” “Everything changes, but not always when you want.” These words help Dalal face the unknown.

Dalal was coughing a long time before a health worker at Azraq refugee camp noticed and arranged for testing in a mobile health clinic that came by every week. Dalal was diagnosed with tuberculosis. She went on treatment immediately, was closely monitored, and completed it in six months. She feels stronger. She knows she overcame a disease that has killed many others. “I see more colour,” she said. But she still is not sure where her future lies.

She has brothers in Turkey and in Jordan. One of her sons is about to get married, and she expects a joyous celebration. More than that, she wants to be able to see her 12 grandchildren as much as possible. But two of them she has yet to meet, as they are with the daughter who remained in Syria. When will she see her daughter again? Tears flood Dalal’s eyes, and she says, “I don’t know.”

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