Rebuilding Lives in Syria: Fadia’s Story
7 March 2022
For 29-year-old Fadia, Syria’s story has remained unchanged for most of her adult life. But, along with a group of dedicated women, she is committed to rewriting Syria’s one-dimensional narrative of war and pain.
As an architect, Fadia has been on the frontline of Syria’s rebuild, working on rehabilitation projects that SCIAF is helping to support. This is her story.
“Everyone has heard about the conflict, where in 2011 violent protests led to a full-scale war that has now killed over half a million people, made over 5.6 million people refugees, and left over 11.7 million Syrians in need of aid.
“Now cited by many as the worst humanitarian crisis of our time, it has become Syria’s only story – and our identity as Syrian women has become intertwined with this narrative of war.
“I know Syria, and its women, are so much more than this, as I am part of the group rebuilding it. Together, we are rewriting the story.
“Our personal experiences make us determined.”
“One of the unseen impacts of the war is the effect that it has had on my generation. Those in their twenties, thirties and people who were in university during the intense fighting, want to make up for lost time. They have lived through the bad years and want to combat this with positive actions.
“I always had the ambition to continue studying. When the war happened, everything became a bit harder. But I knew I had a mission: to continue my education, help the people in my city, and get better at what I do.
“I am not alone. Syrian women are very interested in education. Women are working. They want to improve themselves and their country, and secure their future.
“Action helps women reclaim their agency.”
"Initially, I was pessimistic about the possibility of bringing the city back to the state it was before the war. But we started talking to families and visiting their homes. Through their stories of strength and resilience, it encouraged me to continue.
“We completed the first pilot project in 2017 and, since then, we have helped to restore houses for hundreds of families. It’s great visiting a family living in a newly renovated home – there is always such a feeling of joy and hope. "
“Damascus is the oldest city in the world. Having such historic buildings damaged was a loss that was felt across the whole country. But there is a glimmer of hope. As many building materials were locally sourced, it gives me confidence that they can be restored, and become symbols of hope for the nation.
“Around the city, things are beginning to change too. The conflict sparked young people’s interest in things like cultural centres, music lessons, and drawing classes.
“Although it will take many years and a lot of money to repair all the damage, I have hope that Syria can be restored and that we can help all the people of the city to return.”