Two men wearing masks to protect them from covid.

Change maker: Brave

Mercy Corps / Syria 

Courage has many definitions depending on the person and their situation. But, courage for me is to hold your home, family and community and to protect them. I'm saying this because we have been through a lot.

‏It was my duty to protect my family from bombing and death to the last moment now, and for me this is courage. But the definition can differ from one person to another.

‏At first, we were shocked and frightened because we didn't understand what was happening. This was new to us. Before it all we lived a very normal life, but after a while we had to get used to the new difficult situation. Before, our lives were very normal like anyone in the world living a normal life now. We went out, saw our relatives, worked, studied and went on trips. ‏But now we can no longer go out or travel. We just do the basic stuff: eat and drink until it's time for sleep, but then we fear bombing.

I used to go out for work and buy house essentials, but children were forbidden from leaving home. We worried about them. I am the only one to go out and only when necessary. Even schools stopped. There is no stability at all.

2020 has been full of challenges. We faced many obstacles because we have been through war, but we've had the pandemic as well. It has been really difficult because people have had no stability whatsoever, It was difficult to manage the cases of people who always changed their places. We also have a horrible health care system. We have few beds, for example, and people didn't realise how dangerous this pandemic is.

We had to come up with many solutions: We had masks, which everyone wore and practised social distancing. We held many sessions to talk to people about coronavirus, how to wash their hands and how to wear masks. It was difficult at first because people didn't believe us and didn't realize that the whole world is going through a pandemic.

People were shocked and didn't know anything about the virus. We tried to help and to see how could we help. I've always reminded my team to protect themselves first because helping oneself helps others too. We took it seriously and wanted to help everyone.

I'm a very positive person who hopes for a lot more than others. I try to avoid everything toxic and negative around me. Of course, I feel bored and tired, but I have to be responsible for myself and my family that inspires me more. I always talk to my family to forget my daily troubles. I drink coffee and go to work. I want to see my children grow up in a normal environment and study at university. I just want life to be back to normal. We need to work again to help the people that are devastated and depressed following this war.

Before the pandemic, we had other absolute types of obstacles. When you're new, people have to get to know you and gaining their trust is very difficult. We didn't have many cases at first, so we started prevention before the virus arrived. People didn't understand why we wore masks and thought we were afraid of it. People were so poor they didn't even have masks to cover their faces. We taught them how to wash their hands properly and to make their own makes using handkerchiefs.

Obstacles have made me a strong person. I was a normal person in the past, but now I've changed: I've become much stronger. It was difficult and I didn't find my balance, but in the face everything that has happened, it has made me very strong. I always remember that I save lives and without me, people would die

My supervisor at work is my professional role model. He inspires and supports me. My parents passed away a while ago and my siblings are abroad. My family supports me and I have been trying to create support in myself by telling myself that I'm strong enough to heal on my own.

I started working with the organisation I'm currently working with in Turkey, but I moved back to Syria because I heard that they'd be opening a humanitarian response in the area I grew up in. It was a good experience. Honestly, it was a good experience and my decision to return to Syria was very difficult. Everyone was against this decision, my friends and family. But in the end, I decided I wanted to return to Syria and help my country. For it wasn't enough to have just numbers and people's names. I wanted to meet people in person and see their smile when we help them. It was a tough decision, but I don't regret it.

I want the next generation to learn to love helping people and the Earth, and to create a generation that loves others. There were people who went through difficult circumstances in their country, but decided to stay to help the people for they felt happy helping others. We must work on our children's goals now.

This article is based on an interview conducted by A Good Day in Africa. Listen to the full interview below.

Change Maker: BRAVE