Feelings of Sadness and Injustice in Aleppo

Editors’ note: Lebanese writer Arzé Khodr traveled to Aleppo in the wake of massive earthquakes that destroyed large parts of the city that had survived the 12-year civil war. She shares her impressions of her visit in the original audio clip below. Read her report, “On Shaky Ground” in the June 2023 issue of ONE. A full transcript of the audio report follows.

Although I live in a neighboring country to Syria, I had never been to Aleppo. It was on my list, but the 370 km that separate the city from Beirut made me hesitate: It was not as close as Damascus, and I was waiting for the right moment. 

Then the war happened. Syria changed; its cities changed.

And lately, there was the earthquake. I never thought I’d visit Aleppo in these circumstances. That’s why, as I was in the car driving me there, I was aware that this was an opportunity to discover a city in a very peculiar time of its history. 

On the way to Aleppo, you pass by Idlib, for kilometers and kilometers you see abandoned destroyed villages. It was the beginning of spring. The grass was green and there were yellow flowers on vast stretches of land between the destroyed buildings. The sadness that this view can make you feel… Sadness and a deep sense of injustice is what I felt when I got to Aleppo and when I started meeting people.

Church still stands amidst the devastation caused by earthquake in Syria.
Many buildings in Aleppo, Syria, were damaged by the February earthquakes. (photo: Raghida Skaff)

These persons have suffered greatly for the past 12 years. They are currently facing an unprecedented economic crisis and, to make matters worse, they have recently experienced the largest natural disaster in Syria in the past 200 years.

However, in spite of all these challenges, they continue to display remarkable courage, stoicism and willpower. Above all, they are conscious of the fact that their situation is unfair and extremely difficult; yet they remain resolved to do everything in their power to alleviate each other’s pain.

Talking to young volunteers, I was amazed by their generosity and their maturity. They are fully aware that they are going through hard times, but they are also conscious that helping others make them find the strength to go on. A lesson to people young and old, everywhere. –

Arzé Khodr is a freelance writer and playwright, based in Beirut.

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