PHOTO / WORLD
After 10 years of Syrian war, elderly give up hope for returning home
Published: Mar 16, 2021 09:44 AM
Hadi Ghusoun, a retired English teacher in his late 60s, looks at old certificates, which he had found under the rubble of his shattered house in Homs city in central Syria, March 11, 2021.(Photo: Xinhua)

Hadi Ghusoun, a retired English teacher in his late 60s, looks at old certificates, which he had found under the rubble of his shattered house in Homs city in central Syria, March 11, 2021.(Photo: Xinhua)


 
Workers remove the rubble from a shattered area in old Homs city in central Syria, March 11, 2021.(Photo: Xinhua)

Workers remove the rubble from a shattered area in old Homs city in central Syria, March 11, 2021.(Photo: Xinhua)


 
80-year-old Naim Louis stands on the porch of his shattered house in Homs city in central Syria, March 11, 2021.(Photo: Xinhua)

80-year-old Naim Louis stands on the porch of his shattered house in Homs city in central Syria, March 11, 2021.(Photo: Xinhua)


 
Hadi Ghusoun, a retired English teacher in his late 60s, stands on the porch of his shattered home in Homs city in central Syria, on March 11, 2021.(Photo: Xinhua)

Hadi Ghusoun, a retired English teacher in his late 60s, stands on the porch of his shattered home in Homs city in central Syria, on March 11, 2021.(Photo: Xinhua)


 
Hadi Ghusoun, a retired English teacher in his late 60s and a father of two daughters, was standing in front of his shattered home in Homs city in central Syria, watching workers removing the rubble, which was the first step for many Syrians to rebuild their houses.

When Ghusoun first returned to Homs after the Syrian government regained the city, he couldn't believe his eyes because the destruction was so massive.

To return what's left of his house, he needed to climb a damaged staircase and enter the room through a hole in the ground from his neighbor's home.

As the Syrian crisis marks the 10th anniversary on Monday, the country is still suffering the deep scares cut by years of bloodshed and economic blockades.

In the sprawling old part of Homs, large swathes of areas are still in ruins with homes beyond reparation and entire building blocs kneeling on the dusty grounds. Near half of Nom's buildings need a complete reconstruction while the other half require extensive reparation.

But local residents like Ghusoun couldn't afford the reparation or the reconstruction because Syria's economy keeps deteriorating, thanks to economic sanctions imposed by Western countries.

Ghusoun said he saw little hope for the city to heal, at least not anytime soon.

As the Syrian crisis has been dragging on for a decade now, many old fathers realized that their hopes and dreams of returning to their destroyed homes might not come true in their lifetime, so they are passing it over to their children on the hope that they might live it one day.

80-year-old Naim Louis, who also lived in the area, was standing on what used to be the porch of his destroyed home, watching the landscape of destruction before his eyes while a strong wind was blowing, scattering the dust and slamming it everywhere.

The old man said he was among the last people to leave the neighborhood when the rebels took over and thought that it was a matter of days before returning home. It hadn't occurred to him that he might never be able to return his home.

"I thought it would be a few days before we got back. All our neighbors are packing their stuff and leaving, so we decided to leave as well, but rather reluctantly," said Louis.

When he returned, everything was destroyed.

"We are waiting to get help to fix our places. Without help, I will not be able to return to my home in my lifetime. May my children will be able to fix it in the future. They go to work to earn money and they can repair what has been destroyed," said Louis.

Similar to Louis, Ghusourn also believed that the task of restoring old good days lays on the shoulders of his offsprings as life will not get better quickly in Syria.

"I just hope that the dreams and hopes of my daughters (returning to home) come true because I have become old so the dreams are no longer mine. Time will pass whether we are sad or happy so I hope people get to spend their time happily," he said.

The story of Ghusourn and Louis resonates with the life of millions of Syrians. The crisis will be dragged into the 11th year but dreams of normal life still seem slim.

According to the UN refugee agency, UNHCR, there are 6.2 million people, including 2.5 million children, displaced within Syria, the biggest internally displaced population in the World.

Holding a few old certificates that belonged to his daughters he had found under the rubble of his house, Ghusourn told Xinhua that papers and memories are all that left of his entire life.

"Memories take me back to the beautiful times I had spent with my daughters when we were happy and living in peace and thought that the future would be bright but unfortunately, the future was dim and gloomy," he said.
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