My new mantra: Do not freak out when Ahmed sends a recording of explosions then goes offline …
Folks, he’s back and I’m celebrating. And we’re both feeling surprisingly supported, too— Many friends, old and new, checked in during the black out to see if I’d heard any word. I shared with him some Facebook comments that read like a giant scroll of thoughts and prayers sent for his safety, and he said “Wow! That’s amazing. Please thank everyone for me. They are in my heart now, too.”
Friends, you have given Ahmed something I don’t think he expected, which is the feeling of being cared about by strangers. It puts a little lift in his step, while walking down a street he is never quite sure he will have the opportunity to return.
“I’m always thinking about a missile landing nearby,” he said. “I always think about death, even walking down the street.”
It must be impossible to avoid these thoughts in a world where the sky is, quite literally, always falling.
We were out of touch for five very long days, due to his network being down. I’ve learned from many consoling friends who also have friends in war zones that this is par for the course when you live in Syria. To be completely honest, when I met Ahmed last May I was surprised anyone there could communicate at all—I assumed the entire country was in rubble and had no infrastructure. But it turns out that anywhere people are trying to piece together a life, there is likely a connection that will flicker on and off depending on the day.
We’ve been lucky that, at least since May, the network has been strong enough to chat a few times every day, with the exception of this last week.
Which was a total doozy.
Last Tuesday, Ahmed captured the recording of explosions near his home. By Thursday, the network had died. It wasn’t until yesterday that I realized I could try calling his cell phone—we always communicate using online services, and I didn’t think of trying old fashioned cellular service and SMS. I was happy to hear his voice, but he had a difficult story to tell.
He had to flea his home (his third since I’ve known him) because the fighting had gotten so intense. All of his neighbors fled, too. Four days later, on Monday this week, he went to pick up some things he had left behind, and a sniper aimed for him while he crossed the road. Thankfully they missed, but at home he found a broken door and his laptop, money, and some clothing missing. The worst part? He found his passport shredded to pieces.
So now he must wait for a new passport, which he hopes will come through this Tuesday. He’s very discouraged and sad, and of course afraid. But he is back online so we can send some love.
Feel free to leave a message in the comments below, or on my Facebook page, and I’ll make sure he gets them all. Better yet? Make a donation of any amount to the fundraiser I’ve set up for his family. We are almost half-way there, and all donations will be matched before November 7!
*Because Ahmed and family are still in Syria and could be targeted, it is not safe to use their real names or photos.
Photo by Pixelbay User geralt, Creative Commons; Stamp image by Wikimedia user Stan Shebs, Creative Commons