Amman, 28 March 2017 - Al Marekh is a suburb of Amman in Jordan. Today it is home to several refugees from Palestine, Iraq, and Syria. Rentals for accommodation are not as high here as in the central areas of the city, but they keep escalating every year.
Mohamed, originally from Daraa, lived a good part of his life in the Al Salhiyeh area of Damascus, Syria. He had a good upholstery business and was doing well. He was in no hurry to get married, but in 2011 he met Hannan. Hannan was divorced and had her eight-year-old son, Ali, living with her. Hannan and Mohamed eventually married, but before they could begin their life together, war broke out in Syria.
The area where they lived was not too badly affected so they decided to stay. However, things began to go from bad to worse.
“People were being killed all over. The authorities were suspicious of most people. Anyone could be arrested at any time,” says Mohamed with a faraway look in his eyes. He felt that he could no longer continue living there.
Together with his younger brother, they decided to flee Syria. In March 2012, packing whatever they could into two cars, they drove all the way to Jordan. Travelling by road those early days of the war was not as difficult as it is today. They made it in just about four days.
It was not easy to settle in a foreign land. He and his brother’s family had to move from one place to another in search for decent accommodation. The suburb, which Mohammed and his family live in, is certainly very different from the rest of the city. Getting themselves registered with the UN Agency for Refugees was another long process.
Once they finally were registered, he could get some regular cash dole. To supplement this, Mohamed had to look for all kinds of odd jobs doing upholstery work or whatever he could find. It was not easy.
In the meantime, Hannan gave birth to three sons Yousef, Ahmed and Zain. His brother also has four children. Together, twelve family members lived in a two-room apartment with meagre facilities.
Mohamed’s one dream was to go to the US so that his children could have a better future. They went through the rigorous interview processes. They were regularly told that their turn would come after some months. It has been five years now. With new policies in place, he no longer knows what to do or to hope for.
He shares with the JRS Home Visit Team his latest medical certificate of the CT scan of his abdomen and pelvis. He has a tumour, which is malignant. The cancer apparently is spreading but he is not bitter.
He and his family are very grateful to the JRS team for the regular visits to his family and the cash assistance he has received from JRS to partially cover the costs of his treatment. With a gleam in his eyes he says, “JRS is family to us; your visits have a positive impact on all of us. You have been accompanying us, walking this difficult journey with us.”
Hannan is cheerful, exuding warmth and hospitality as she serves cups of hot tea to her visitors. There is a painting on the bare wall of the house. “It is a ‘tree of life’ done by my eldest son Ali”, she proudly says. It is a symbolic painting, even as an unknown future awaits them.
His first destination from Syria was Jordan. His dream destination was the United States. With all the pressures and challenges, which he and his family face today, Mohamed nurtures dreams: a hope for tomorrow, that his children will have a better future in a world which is more loving, and more peaceful.
- Fr Cedric Prakash sj