Athar is a young Syrian refugee living in Saskatoon whose quick laughter and generous smiles hide a world of pain. She says,
Three years ago, Athar remembers how she was full of hope for her future. Newly wed, she was looking forward to joining her husband at the university—he was law student and she planned to begin studying psychology. They lived much like any young newlyweds, full of life and love and anticipation, in a freshly furnished suite in his parents’ home, brimming with the gifts they had received from their wedding of only ten days ago. Their plans, however, turned to ash with the bombing of their village and the arrival of military forces.
Many people died that first day of bombing—young and old—for bombs do not discriminate. After losing their own home and all of their possessions, Athar’s husband made the decision to flee. Gripped by terror and horrified at the thought of leaving behind family and friends and every single thing that was familiar, they began the dangerous journey to the border and across into Lebanon.
Athar’s parents are still in Syria, in the village where she used to live, but it’s been a month since she had any contact with them. The news she does get is from social media—from Facebook—but none of the news is good, for every day brings new images of mutilated children and bombed apartments. The last time she spoke to her parents, they were on the roof of their house, the only place where they had a connection, when the reception started cutting in and out. She heard them say that they could see planes approaching, and then the connection was completely cut. She is sure that they must still be alive, for there are some in her village still able to communicate through Facebook. She knows that the village was bombed again, and many more died, but she is sure that someone would have told her if something had happened to her parents. All she can do, though, is wait, wonder and worry.
Athar is thankful to have be here in Canada and she is grateful for all that she has. She knows it is a gift to live in a place that is secure and safe, but she can’t find any richness in her life while her soul remains in Syria, where there is nothing but suffering. Sleep, for example, is especially hard. When it does come, she has dreams of home and of life the way it used to be. Then, when she wakes up, she is shocked by the reality of what’s happening in Syria. She worries constantly, and jumps at every phone call, sure each time that it is bringing her the news she can’t bear to hear.