Siege Notes

A town under siege is but a big prison trapping you and your loved ones inside, with no possibility of breaking out.The only escape is to seek refuge in your dreams and memories, but this is only temporary – every time reality hits back with a vengeance, dragging you back into the horror and tragedy of everyday life. The sound of the bombardments and airstrikes, the threat of death that follows you around everywhere you go, the hunger, the chilling cold, the surging prices, the endless losses.

You keep fighting till you lose yourself; keep resisting that gaze of helplessness in the weary eyes around you; keep getting reminded by the laughter of the children that no matter what, deep inside you, there is still hope tucked away. Everyone waits, everyone wants to survive even while the nauseating stench of death has nested itself firmly in every crook and cranny of the world around you.But at the same time, the smell of freshly baked bread is everywhere, as people rebuilding their houses, sweeping the streets and patching up the roads. Everyone is fighting for their right to live in whatever way they can.

The bombing never stops. Night and day, it continued for hours on end. But the people got used to waiting for the bombing to stop, so that they could go on with their (un)usual lives and their never-ending quest for survival.

For many children this is the only reality they have ever known. They were born and raised in the war, in a town under siege where daily life is shaped predominantly by pain, blood and fear. “Peace” is an unfamiliar concept to them, the great unknown is always hoovering on the horizon, retreating further with every step you take. The adults, on the other hand, are constantly occupied with finding ways to survive the siege, to keep their families alive and well in the midst of the continuous bombing. While fleeing the air strikes, people used to recycle their old stuff and invent new ways of providing the most basic living conditions, like electricity and clean water. Providing food for the youngest children who were born during the siege was one of the toughest challenges for all.

Still, the siege and the bombing didn't stop the people from resisting and fighting for a better life. Their fate was to live in rebel cities that were targeted by the Syrian regime, and to witness the death of thousands, and the suffering of many, many more.

The future of millions of people was destroyed when the Syrian revolution first turned into a civil war, and then became the setting for an international conflict with multiple states vying for control over the region. Life under siege was like a tremendous tornado that sought to swallow everyone as a whole, yet failed to do so.

This documents some from the struggles of the people of Eastern Ghouta in rebuilding the present and dreaming of the future while lived under siege for more than five years.