During the winter of 2011, Farid was looking forward to starting his postgraduate studies in Aleppo, Syria.
But when the bloody civil war erupted in his country, he was faced with a tough dilemma. Should he flee the conflict and violence, or stay and deliver much-needed aid to fellow Syrians?
Since then, Farid has often come face-to-face with the harsh realities of war and the devastation this has had on thousands of innocent people – including his own friend.
He spoke to us and took some time to reflect upon his life in a conflict zone and his work for ReliefAid.
Life in war-torn regions
Q. Is there a particular memory you have which signifies the fragility of life in war-torn regions?
A. One day a friend and I were distributing aid to a neighbourhood I knew well. After we’d finished, he mentioned that he was meeting a girl […] and invited me to go to the market to
help him pick out some new clothes to wear for the date.
But I did not go with him because it had been an exhausting day and I wanted to get some sleep. So, I wished him the best for the evening and we parted ways.
Not long after saying goodbye, I received news that the market had been bombed by an explosive barrel bomb released by a helicopter flying over the city, and that my friend had been killed.
In that moment, my only wish was that I had accompanied him to the market.
Q. You have been delivering aid in Syria for a considerable amount of time, can you tell me about the specific needs of the people you have encountered?
A. Right now, people simply need items to help them survive. But in the future, once safety has hopefully come back, the most important focus will be to rekindle and then advance the education process.
As a society, we’ll need to rehabilitate educational facilities and develop an education system so that we can create the men and women of the future who will rebuild Syria.
Q. How do you stay as safe as possible when distributing aid?
A. We calculate (as much as we can) the likelihood of the airstrikes hitting at certain points throughout the day. We avoid scheduling the distribution at these times and we choose uncovered places for distribution, places which are difficult to be seen by aircraft, beyond this were just incredibly careful when moving between the distribution points.
The impact of our aid
Q. Tell us how people’s lives have been improved by the aid you have distributed?
The materials we distribute have helped to protect people from extreme weather conditions and have given them greater space and privacy for their families.
We’ve been able to preserve life by giving them the tools necessary to purify water to drink, we also deliver season-specific clothing to vulnerable communities and specifically children.
Hope for a brighter future
Q. What are your greatest fears and hopes for Syria and your fellow Syrians?
A. Our biggest fear is that the war will continue and the country will become even more divided. Our biggest hope is that the war will stop and peace will prevail. [The people we’re helping are] incredibly resilient and resourceful, but they have no choice because they are victims of a cruel war.
Q. What do you hope for your own future?
I hope to see my family again, complete my studies, get married and create a family. The simple things in life.