Wednesday 28 November 2012
Young and old at Domiz refugee campAbrahim and Zakha Khalo with their granddaughter Zozan outside their ShelterBox tent at Domiz refugee camp, Iraq Kurdistan, November 2012.
"Our entire street was bombed. We ran while dodging bullets. The noise was terrifying. We managed to escape quickly. We had to run then hide behind buildings then run again then hide. We reached a quieter area where we were luckily able to grab a taxi."
Tears streamed down Zakha Khalo's face as she told her story. Sadness filled the eyes of her family sitting around her. Abrahim is her husband and they are in their late sixties. In just a few seconds, they lost their home in Damascus that they had lived in with their family for 47 years. Everything they had known was taken from them in that short moment, their possessions, their neighbours. Memories are all they have now.
They lived with their two sons, one being a truck driver and the other a government official, as well as their grandchildren. When they escaped, the taxi took them to Qamishli; from there they then walked three hours together across the border to Iraq Kurdistan.
A sense of normality at Domiz camp where washing is hung between ShelterBox tents, November 2012, Iraq Kurdistan.
"I was so worried about Abrihim," said Zakha. "He has diabetes and has suffered two heart attacks. My back was also in pain. I was concerned we wouldn't make it."
The three-generational family reached Domiz refugee camp in Iraq Kurdistan in mid-November. They were allocated a winterized ShelterBox tent immediately.
"We are so grateful for being given a tent - we were expecting to sleep outside," commented Zakha.
20-year-old Zozan is their granddaughter. She was in her second year studying law at a university in Khorat, Syria, when she left.
"I wasn't able to finish my studies," explained Zozan. "No-one could stay with me and I couldn't stay as a girl on my own, it's too dangerous. I am happy to be safe but I miss studying, I miss my books and I miss my pyjamas - we had to leave literally everything behind."
"I miss my kitchen," said Zakha. "We are thankful for the shelter we have here as we have nothing to return to in Syria. Oh Syria. What used to be my home has become a place of danger and destruction. We have no future there. We can only hope for the future here."