Families torn apart by war

Sedat Suna / EPA

Sedat Suna / EPA

Last week marked four years since the start of the conflict in Syria… I shared with the BBC Fifth Floor one of my most memorable experience of reporting on the conflict… Lina Sinjab of BBC Arabic also has a very moving story to tell… You can reach the programme on this link: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p02lxkwt For Turkish speakers, this is the story I told about: http://www.bbc.co.uk/turkce/haberler/2014/10/141022_ypj_sarisaclar In October 2014 I was reporting from the Turkish Syrian border, facing Kobane on the other side of the fences. At the top of a hill which was once called ‘Love Hill’ because of the beautiful view of the city we were now witnessing the heavy shelling, bombing.. and then smoke coming out of the wreckages. Witnessing the war had become a daily routine for weeks. When I was in Suruc, a border village, I met a family sheltering in an abandoned warehouse near the local hospital. A mother of 9, Hacer Abdul was breastfeeding her newly born daughter Bawer. Her name translates as ‘homeless’ from Kurdish. It had been only 2 months since they have left their home and only 1 month since the arrival of their new baby. Hacer, the mother, had very determined eyes, deep blue and sharp as a knife… This is also how she described her 16 years old daughter Hannin to me, who had left her family three months ago to join the Kurdish forces fighting against ISIL. After, weeks and months of longing, I saw the mother and the daughter finally united in a hospital.. Hacer was still pregnant and hospitalised for a false labour and then… she said.. “She could smell the beautiful scent of her older daughter” “I could feel her presence, surrounding the corridors…” “I knew I was going to see her”… “Then” she adds… “I saw a blond pony tale dangling from the stretcher with her body covered with a white blanket”… and I knew it was her… “Then I screamed her name, my daughter’s name…” I thought she was dead” she told me. Almost in tears… Then lying wounded on the stretcher, Hanin recognised her mother’s voice whom she hasn’t seen for months.. and responded with just calling her as how she used to do as a little girls…  “Mamma is that you?” Then Hacer told me how she ripped off all the medical tubes she was tied with to run to her wounded daughter.. She was “brave and strong” as her mother tells me… After recovering from her injuries, Hanin went back to continue to her fight against ISIS in Kobane, a town which is now in full control of the Kurdish forces…

Sedat Suna / EPA

Sedat Suna / EPA

I was very moved by the way they reunited.. A new life the mother was carrying in her body, to be born in foreign soils… and a young girl, a sister, a daughter which was risking her life to secure a safe future for her family… Before putting their story on paper.. I remember giving a call to my mother… and asking her “Mom, is that really possible for a mother to recognise their child with no sight but only with their scent?” She remained quiet for a while and said, Cagil, you live miles away from me in London but I live with your scent the very same one as how you used to bear the first time you were born…” It was as difficult story to write.. The resistance in Kobane has become a unifying symbol for the Kurds… and the strength of this family’s ties has become a symbol of resistance for my understanding of the events on the ground.

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