The devil is in the details…

Associated Press pulitzer award winning photo...

 

“106 people were killed in Syria today, 300 more were injured”

 

A statement we read everyday, shared by some news agency somewhere on facebook or twitter. The numbers might change but the story is the same, so we shake our heads in pity (sometimes) and scroll down to more interesting stuff like Suarez biting people at the world cup, Selfies and Myriam Klink.

But what hides behind those numbers are people, or, what in today’s world has become known as “the details”.

Ahmad is one of those details.

I never got to meet Ahmad. I never got to meet him because Ahmad is a 4 year old; who got killed in Syria when a rocket hit his house.
I met his surviving father Bilal, his mother Hasna’, his 3 year old brother Mohammad and his newborn sister Alia, whom he never got the chance to meet.
Ahmad’s family is now a refugee family inside of Lebanon; they fled their village after a massacre stripped them from one of their own. Bilal the father is 29, he is blind and walks with the help of a cane that he can only hold from the middle, because it is broken in three places. My job with UNHCR requires me to ask asylum seekers to recall and tell me their horrible stories to then assess their needs as refugees. Hasna’ the mother sat quietly, staring at me yet somehow making me feel invisible. The children were anxious, agitated and crying the entire time. But it was Bilal who sucked my soul out and silenced my heart.
Have you ever seen a grown blind man fighting with every grain of strength in his body to stop himself from bursting into tears in front of his family? He could no longer handle his crying son’s voice, his entire body trembled as he put his hand on his face and scratched it down.
I politely asked his wife to wait outside with the children so that I speak to him alone.
The sob Bilal let out when I closed the door weakened my knees. I watched him crumble; beaten and destroyed because of a fight he was never a part of.
I sat in my chair silent. My only sad relief was that he was blind; he could not see the look on my face as I mutely fought my own tears from leaving my eyes.
A few minutes that seemed like hours passed by, and he began to speak. What he told me went from sad and unfair, to shocking.
Bilal like most Syrian refugees in Lebanon, lives with his family in a poor rural area in basic conditions that are unbearable to anyone living in the 21st century, surrounded by a local community that is already suffering from poverty, over crowding and lack of education; a community that has, unsurprisingly, found many ways to exploit Syrian refugees.
Bilal is well known on the street where he lives (A blind man with a broken stick and two children is not exactly low profile), he serves as entertainment material to his well-behaved neighbors. He is teased and referred to as “يا أعمى” (Blind one).
He dreads the seconds where he has to walk out of or into his street. Whenever him and his family walk out of their house, his wife gets verbally abused. The neighborhood kids keep provoking him until he does the only thing he can do, go crazy, scream and swear as they laugh at his reaction.

Bilal has been robbed at least five times.

One of the times he can’t get over is when he was taking young Mohammad and newly born Alia to the local clinic for a medical check up. A man walked up to him and snatched his wallet from his front blouse pocket; “Please, I need to take my child to the clinic, I need money to pay for transportation”… “you can walk” replied the robber. Bilal went crazy and started to curse. He then got beaten up in front of his wife and kids; by a man he could not see.

Bilal paused for a few seconds after telling me the story…

“I want to kill my wife and kids and then kill myself… I wish we all died in Syria with Ahmad”.

You know what the sad part was? I understood him.

 “106 people were killed in Syria today, 300 more were injured”

Think about the details.

The devil is in the details.

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5 thoughts on “The devil is in the details…

  1. Pingback: The devil is in the details… Tarek WHEIBI | LIBAN, CHRONIQUES CIVILES

  2. Pingback: Le diable est dans les détails – Tareq WHEIBI | LIBAN, CHRONIQUES CIVILES

  3. Tarek Wheibi, j’ai pris connaissance hier soir de cette tragédie qui se nomme Bilal, Hasna, Ahmad, Mohammad et Alia. (Je suis depuis très longtemps tout ce qui touche la Syrie, et de toute façon, La Terre Sainte.) J’ai envoyé au Monde, au Point, à l’Express, cet article, comme je leur envoie la Vérité depuis des années. Auriez-vous des nouvelles de cette famille ? Comment en avoir ? Comment les aider ? Cordialement.

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