The window is closed so that my female guests wouldn’t show to outsiders while they’re getting dressed. The cat I am keeping home, against the house owner’s will, is trying to find a spot on my lap to sit while I am writing this post.
I have lots of laundry being soaked in water and soap waiting to be washed.
The electricity has been cut since 9 days, it’s the first time this happens ever since I moved to this village four months ago.
Two days ago we brought the generator home to fill the water container.
Ever since the electricity is gone we’ve been spending lots of money on fuel for the generator to charge our laptops.
We use a huge battery to keep the internet going without turning on the generator.
Communication is cut here totally for a year now: no land-phones or mobiles. Hence revolutionaries use satellite internet to connect to the world and to get their job done. It’s very expensive, that’s why it’s not easy to get it when you need it.
I am the only outsider (as in Syrian but not from the village), non-veiled, living- in- a –house- alone female in this village who’s working among male revolutionaries. This sentence needs a lot of expanding for you to understand it but I am not going to try now, it’s too exhausting to explain.
The cat is happy on my lap. My female guests who came from the US have just left to donate money to the poor in neighboring villages.
It’s hard to be an outsider all the time: an outsider as an active woman occupying man’s spaces. An outsider in my looks, an outsider in my political stances. Even so, I feel I am closer to home here as an outsider than I have felt towards Syria and its people before the revolution.
Here, people ask questions about me in my face and behind my back. They ask how come I am not veiled and Muslim. How come I don’t pray and fast. How come I am with revolutionaries (who are male) all the time?
I am sure that not everybody accept me as I am and what I do. But I think the more people see of me the more I feel they accept and welcome me among them.
I am living in this house for free for the past four months. I go to shops to buy stuff and people sometimes don’t take money from me when they know I am here working with internally-displaced children.
People don’t get me nor do they agree with me at all when they hear my thoughts and political stances, yet they smile when they see me, offer to help me getting by in this village. I don’t feel that I am being judged around here.
It is not a picnic though to live as an outsider, as a person who’s clearly not from around here.
My guests ask me how I can do it. How I can continue to live a month after another without friends, family, or at least a similar mentality. My answer to them is simple and it’s an honest one. I couldn’t do it without the revolutionaries who are my family here. I couldn’t survive one day without them.
I don’t think this new family of mine, really gets the gender battles I am facing everyday, but they get part of it, and for that I am grateful.
For a week now I have been giving voluntary English lessons for almost 50 women here, married and unmarried. They’re very smart and eager to learn and be better.
I don’t get tired of work. Never. I wake up around 9 AM, drink my Turkish coffee that’s hard to get in the village, smoke few cigarettes, play with Raja, the cat, list down few things to do during the day, then go to my English lesson around 1 PM till 2:30 PM everyday except on Fridays.
A revolutionary is here from Syrian Nonviolent Peaceful Movement is giving us a training about Project management. The training is around 3 PM and finishes around 5 PM.
After that we buy stuff for Ramadan breakfast, cook and get ready for it and clean the center a bit.
We get busy for the breakfast for hours to come till 8:30 PM coz sources are scarce. I take an hour to cook on an oven usually, but there’s a one-eyed stove here, so we take around three or four hours to get the meal finished instead.
It’s very expensive to order food from restaurants and you have pretty much three options anyways: 1- grilled meat. 2-grilled chicken. 3-Sfiha.
Everyone fast around here that’s why I don’t smoke or eat or drink in public, I do so indoors and in front of close circles.
The cat is now sleeping on my lab.
After breaking the fast, my team and I meet around 9 PM to review the plan before going to the school of the day, where internally displaced people live in.
Our work target children specifically. We provide psychosocial support for them, play with them and train them how to hide from the shells. We also screen cartoons and songs and some vids for their families on nationality, civil rights, peaceful revolution, peace-building..etc.
I am proud of myself. I’ve never felt satisfied in my life as I do now. This is an amazing feeling, a rare feeling to feel, like love, to feel you’re satisfied with what you’re doing and with your achievements. I am 33 years old, and finally I am proud of myself.
We go to a school everyday except on Thursdays and Fridays. We finish around 11 PM in Ramadan, at 10 PM during the year.
It’s been a while since I wanted to write a post. I couldn’t since there isn’t time to do so nor energy left to sit and focus.
I am satisfied, Assad. I am satisfied to see what kind of woman I have become, due to this revolution and its space, due to revolutionaries who are mostly patriarchal, but willing to work, respect and love me as I am.
Oh, Assad, there are so many things you just can’t bomb.
PS. yesterday we went to a school in a neighboring village to find no kid in school (who are over 100) waiting for us. We learned from the families that a shell fell 5 meters away from it and killed a family of a father, mother and their child whose body parts was rapped in a bag.
The post is not totally finished. But I am happy that I wrote some of it.