MAGAZINE | Hijacking the Language of Fashion

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Ammar’s Dream

My name is Ammar Albonya.
I’m twelve years old and I’m from Syria.

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I live with my three siblings and my mother. Our own crisis started in January 2013 when my father disappeared, who I loved more than anyone in this world. We didn’t hear any news about him for a very long time, until we found out that he died at the hands of ‘ISIS Militants’, who attacked our home and lots of other houses in our neighborhood. But no matter how difficult the situation was, it didn’t stop me from going to school to try and fulfill my dreams.
Ever since I was a little kid, I wanted to be an engineer.

With all the injustices of ISIS, and in spite of our money problems, I have never given up on my dream to continue my education.

When things got really bad, my mother had to move us to a safer place in Syria. But the problem was that ISIS was preventing people from getting out. They were using people as human shields. We had to be smuggled out in a car by people who took us to a small place where we could hide until a strange guy came and showed us where to go. 

After we arrived we were starving. My mother had to go out and find us food. She cut leaves from some trees and we devoured them within seconds because we were so hungry. It made me sad seeing my mother trying to hide her hunger and tears, as we climbed into the lower branches of the trees so that ISIS couldn’t find and torture us. That night was very dark and we were really scared. Then suddenly two men showed up. They frightened us at rst, but they told us it was safe and that we shouldn’t be afraid – and that they wanted to come with us. They gave us water and my mother told us to drink first.

She was crying at the sight of
us struggling for water.

The men led us to the road and we started on a very long journey through a dangerous area until we reached safety. Eventually we managed to get into a car that took us to our relatives, where we stayed for the next two months. My mother then decided it was best to leave this territory and go somewhere else as it was still too dangerous because of the war.

We moved from Syria to Lebanon. My mother had to sell all of her jewelry so we would have a little money. We had to climb the Lebanon mountain, which my mother did barefoot because she forgot her shoes in the car and the driver left very quickly because he was afraid of the army. When my mother came down from the mountain she was met by a young man carrying shoes, so she bought a pair from him and continued walking.

We reached a bus which drove us to a refugee camp where there were lots of rats and mice. There was also a guillotine and a wood saw. It was a burning hot summer and we didn’t have enough money to pay for a place to stay. Eventually, with the combined income from my sister’s job, my mother and myself we were able to rent somewhere. It was a small room of about six square meters which we divided into three sections. The biggest one was the living room and doubled as the bedroom. The kitchen was smaller, and the bathroom even smaller.

My school wasn’t official, so the certificate I received there wasn’t accepted by other schools. I had to stay at this unofficial school, because it was cheap. There were so many times I wished I could go to an of cial school with a better education program. I saw my friends’ houses which were much bigger than our tiny little place. It wasn’t nice to see their mothers preparing them for school, while my mother had to work long hours on a farm.

All I wish for my mother is to get some rest and be rid of the hassle of work. I wish we had a bigger place. I wish I had a cell phone and a computer like my friends, so I don’t have to defend myself all the time because our lives are so different and I don’t have the things they’ve got.

My family always has to work hard. Whenever I ask for something my mother always says ‘Yes! OK! I will buy you this or that’ ... but it never happens because we don’t have any money.

So I sit alone in my empty room and sometimes I cry. I don’t let anyone hear me and I wish that someone would help me make my dreams come true - so that I can be an engineer, if I stayed determined of course.

Olfa Ben Ali