The Bombing in Daraa: Am Malik
Last week, as airstrikes rained down on Daraa governate — a large metropolitan area in southwestern Syria — and more than 160,000 fled their homes, Am Malik, a Syrian refugee from Daraa, sat down with Ahed Festuk, MFA's Assistant Coordinator of Public Outreach, in New York City to tell her story.
A mother of five young children, Am Malik and her family lived through previous bombings in Daraa. They experienced tanks rumbling by their home and firing shells into the night. She and her immediate family fled to Jordan in 2013, and ultimately resettled in New York in 2016.
However, the remainder of her family stayed in Daraa, and at the time of the video, were under the threat of destruction by the Syrian government. Even worse, her communication with them had been cut off.
This is Am Malik in her own voice.
Am Malik: Hello. I’m Am Malik from Daraa. I’m 28-years-old. I’m married, and I have five children. I live in New York City.
Ahed Festuk: Why did you leave your country?
Am Malik: I left my country because of the situation there because of the war, because we’ve been through so much. At first, we were living in safety and stability. My husband was working, and I was a stay-at-home mother raising my children. And then the war started, and Bashar started to bomb our city and to arrest the young people. The situation became very bad.
I couldn’t take it and stay there with my children anymore. Even sometimes, while we were sleeping, tanks would pass by our house and fire. It was a very hard day that I can’t forget, and it’s always on my mind.
I just gave birth to my daughter during that time. There was a lot of shelling on our area. I had to hold my children and run away to the bathroom, just to feel a bit safer that no one would be injured. After that, I decided we had to leave the country because of events around us and there was no safety anymore.
I don’t like leaving my country, and I always think about it. But the circumstances forced us.
Ahed Festuk: Can you please tell us about what is going on right now in Daraa?
Am Malik: The situation right now in Daraa is bad. I want to send a message to all the people that Damascus has already been through a bad situation like Homs, Hama, and Idlib. When I talked with my family, they told me that the government threatened Daraa. They will bomb it with chemical weapons, and they will bomb the people there and destroy Daraa.
I used to communicate with my family, but now there is no communication. And since the bombardment started, there situation there is very difficult. I don’t know how I’m going to communicate with them. They were thinking about moving to another area, but I think they can’t because the bombardments are everywhere in Daraa.
I hope all people will help Syrians and stand by them. We don’t want to see in Daraa what we’ve seen in Damascus. We don’t want the [evacuation] green buses to drive people outside of Daraa. I hope people will hear this and help in any way, even by speaking out, just stand up for Syrians.
Ahed Festuk: How can Americans help people in Syria?
Am Malik: For people inside Syria, we must help however we can. Maybe one dollar won’t make a difference here, but it’ll certainly make a difference in Syria. And maybe we can make many children happy. We can help in many ways.
Syrian Voices is a new video series created by MFA to share the personal stories of people affected by the crisis. By letting Syrians speak in their own words, Syrian Voices aims to help us all better understand the impact of the humanitarian crisis and share the lives, challenges, aspirations, strengths, and successes of the Syrian people.
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