'Actually, our life has never been an easy one.'

My husband was a member of the resistance long before the war. He was imprisoned twice for six years after which he disappeared, most likely to Turkey. Despite this, two of my sons built us a good house with five floors. 

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Every household in the family was given a floor. I lived on the ground floor and enjoying seeing my grandchildren growing up. To help with the costs, I ironed sheets at a laundromat.

But then the war came. 

It started with simple things, like having to stand in line for bread. But after that is when everything went wrong. Because one of my sons fought in the Free Syrian Army, our house was completely destroyed by the regime. This son died during battle; his wife was arrested and murdered. Besides him I lost another two sons and a daughter by bombings and a sniper. I had nothing anymore and fled with a few of my grandchildren to Beirut. By selling tissues on the street, we could make enough for the rental of a small room shared with others. 

Photo's of Iyman's sons and daughter who got killed in the Syrian war by bombings and a sniper.

The wives of two of my deceased sons married again after a few months. I understand this. As an unmarried woman in Syria you have no chance. But one of the two ended up in a very aggressive family. They threatened to have her children thrown before snipers. The neighbours could no longer witness this, brought the children to a safe place and then phoned me. If I could pick up my grandchildren and look after them. 

I did not doubt for a single moment and travelled back to Syria. But right away at the border, the Syrian intelligence service locked me up for 17 days. Me, a 63-year-old woman, was beaten and tortured. They said that my son was a terrorist. That is what they always have done in Syria: if they want to punish one, they hold the entire family under fire. It was horrific.

After 17 days they let me go. Filled with tremendous fear I picked up the children and we travelled back to Beirut. Because I could no longer pay the rent of the small room, I moved with my seven grandchildren to this small camp. We now live in a tent. There is no school. I have no idea what is going to happen to us.


We gave our Facebook-friends the opportunity to be part of our conversations by posting questions. Iyman answers the question of Liedewij: Do you have a thing that you already owned five years ago?

My grandchildren are having a difficult time. A few of them have stopped talking, and one of them is also still very aggressive. Because they all feel so abandoned, they need constant attention and they don't want to share me. They are always suspicious and if I am briefly out of sight they panic. It is very difficult for me to do the right thing. Because I am not the youngest anymore I am worried about the future.

There is now a Lebanese organization which has been counselling the children for a year now by having them talk about their traumas. That has been a huge help and I am so very happy that they are there. We must make sure that they have a better life.

That is why I want to tell my story. I want people to keep asking about my grandchildren, because no one sees them anymore. There is no future for them. Please, publish everything that you hear and see here. We need help.






Moments later she also answered the question of Gerald: Do you agree with the fact that we are filming and taking pictures or would you like us to do something else to help you?





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