Today, Reem (29) lives in Gaziantep, Turkey, as a refugee — in a single room that functions as both a bathroom and a kitchen, where she fears her baby will “inhale the gas from the heater.”
A year ago, she was a newlywed and a schoolteacher, living in Jableh, Syria, and optimistic about social change. “I was for the revolution,” Reem said. “We were looking at the uprising in the streets. How people of all ages were rising up — the educated and the worker, all types of people.”
However, when Reem's brother was drafted into the army, another brother was imprisoned, and her husband was called to military service soon after, Reem decided to flee. She travelled through seemingly endless, terrifying checkpoints, in constant fear of being found out. She was alone, because her husband had gone ahead, afraid of being recognised.
“[I thought] if he got caught, what would they do to him? I was very stressed and under so much pressure by myself. And, to be honest, all of the stress and the pressure, even physically enduring the trip, caused me to have a miscarriage. All of those things caused me to lose my first baby,” she said.
And yet, despite all that, Reem is still filled with hope. Even while living in Turkey as a refugee, scared to show her face, she has found new work and endeavours to educate the children in her community. She said, “Our future is when we go back to Syria, there we make our future, we fix our life, rebuild the country, rebuild the infrastructure.”
Our future is when we go back to Syria, there we make our future, we fix our life, build the country, rebuild the infrastructure.
Watch Reem tell her story in her own words, above, and if you're moved to help her, and the 4.2 million other men, women and children displaced by the conflict in Syria, donate to the UNHCR to provide desperately needed aid, such as food, sleeping bags and mats for refugee families.