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Starting a First Job in War-Torn Syria

This article was previously published on Syria Deeply.

By Marah

Marah, a teenage girl from one of Syria's besieged cities, shares her stories of life in the war with Syria Deeply. She recently moved to Damascus to continue her education, deciding to focus her college studies on prosthetics. She hopes to help heal the injured in her country's conflict.

Through the darkness of the night appears the moon; from a thorny plant emerges a delicious fruit; and beautiful flowers break through rocks and stones. That's how life is, with all its pain and ugliness. It also gives you hope to lift you up and gives you strength. In spite of all the difficulties I'm facing, success finds its way to me, giving sweet pleasure and pushing me to be optimistic about life.

I passed my educational training in the specialized camp for prosthetics, and I managed to make and install a prosthesis all by myself. I scored third in my class. I was hoping for better results, but it’s ok for a beginner like me. I will do my best to improve myself in time by practicing. My participation in this camp was of great benefit for me in terms of a qualification, as it was practical to what I’m studying. After two months there will be a course in my field of study held by the Ministry of Health. This course will apparently be very useful for both my study and for my future career, but to register you have to pay a certain amount of money. Honestly, I felt embarrassed to ask for the money from my mother when I know that she barely has enough to manage our life, so I had to work.

For the first time in my life I have a job, and I will get paid for my own work. It’s been two weeks in the job now; I feel exhausted because I go out in the morning to my college and come back in the evening when I finish my work. As soon as I finish my lectures I run to my job, which is in a big company that sells electrical devices. My job is to explain the features of the devices to customers.

The thing that bothers me about this job is that I have to smile and accept whatever customers say without making any comment. Taking this job has put me under pressure that I could do without, but there’s no escaping it. The owner of the business is a kind man. He reminds me of my grandfather with his kindness, and I like and respect him. I am excited to have this experience in spite of its disadvantages, as it will provide me with the money I need without asking my mother, who hasn't yet found a job here.

Life in the capital is not as easy as I thought it would be. Sometimes I blame myself and feel responsible for encouraging them to come here. I was unaware of the costs here, such as rent, study expenses, and other costs. For example, a week ago I got hepatitis. We spent a lot of money on doctors, tests, and medicines. It made my mother very worried that the infection would spread to my sisters and brother, and she did her best to avoid that. She’s a poor thing, my mother. I always fear her strength will weaken and she will lose her smile, which is the secret to our life.

Moving to the capital changed us a lot. My 11-year-old brother, Muhammad, no longer settles for little after seeing the difference between here and home. He’s also become aggressive. I don’t why. He has lost his ability to communicate with others, especially adults. He has become bad-tempered, unwilling to listen to what my mother tells him, and his reaction to everything is always to attack. My mother is very worried about him, and she’s trying her best to correct his behavior, especially now that he’s in the beginning of his teenage years.

As for my 16-year-old sister, Lana, she’s adapting fast. My mother fears for her in this messy new atmosphere, where it’s easy to slip and make mistakes. As for the middle one, Maya, who is 17, she’s preparing to graduate from high school. It’s aching my mother’s heart that she hasn't been able to provide her with tutors or a good school. She clings to her books, dreaming of a great future.

It’s weird how things have changed. Is it the place that changed us, or is it our financial situation that’s affecting us? I don’t know. But in spite of all this, I feel that a wonderful great event is ahead of us. It could be a golden job opportunity for my mom, or a chance for my family to travel, or … I don’t know, but something inside me is giving me hope. I truly believe that life will smile at me. Tragedies can break glass, but they make iron harder, and I won’t be easily broken, ever.

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Marah is a contributor at Syria Deeply.

[Photo courtesy of Hanadi Traifeh and Charles Roffey

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