By Fay Bcharah
It’s midterms week, and the stress of students is through the roof. We have four or five classes to study for, maybe even six – and let’s not forget the part time jobs most of us have. There’s a lot to juggle, but what’s the worst that can happen? You’ll go to your exam, whether prepared or not, and go home or back to your dorm. Three years ago, a few students were not so lucky to go back home after taking their exams.
Since the start of the Syrian Civil War in 2011, 11.5 percent of the population has been injured or killed, according to the Syrian Center for Policy research. Most of the casualties were a direct result of violence. Many of the attacks are targeted in Aleppo, Syria’s economic capital.
Civilians of Aleppo live with little to no access to resources like water, electricity, or food. Loris Masri, a 20-year old student living in Aleppo, has been living in the midst of the war since it began and continues to struggle today.
“At first, I cried all day everyday and I became really depressed. It felt like the world in front of me shut down and everything was over,” said Masri. “We rose above it all together and we became stronger and we began to get out of the house more often with no fear, whatever happens, happens. We wanted to live and until this day we are spending splendid times with each other.”
On Jan. 15, 2013, the medical building in the University of Aleppo was bombed during midterm exams. Masri is one of the survivors of the attack. Unfortunately, she lost many close friends.
“It was something bigger than our ability to understand… many people couldn’t talk for days and many couldn’t get out of this shock, especially people who were there and people who lost someone whether a friend or a family member,” said Masri. “The human mind is smarter than you think. Especially the Syrian human. He is determined to find solutions for every problem. The Syrian, especially the one living in Aleppo, doesn’t give up.”
Masri would like to raise awareness about the civilian condition in Aleppo.
“America’s 9/11 is Syria’s 24/7,” Masri said. “We are tired of not being heard. We are tired of waking up every morning with losses,” not only of strangers but of her friends. “Tony Sakkal., Elias Abyad, Nour Asslo, Anwar Samaan, Misho Samaan, Juliana Bshish and her brother, Rancy Khawam, Ghaith Agha, Sammy Yatim, George Addoumieh, Fouad Bello, and sadly more… These are your friends too. They go to school and study, they are in clubs, they play basketball.”
She refuses to speak of her lost friends in the past tense, because they are still loved by those they left behind.
These students woke up, thinking they would go to school, take their exam, and go home. They planned to be doctors, saving people’s lives, but did not have the chance to show the world their passion for medicine. There is no telling when the war will end, but the innocent civilians have found a way to keep purpose in their lives, and that is by sticking together.