Aya (27)

I was born and raised in Aleppo. I have very fond memories of my childhood. Everything was good, I felt very happy. I met my husband in the street. We got married and a year later we had a daughter. Her grandpa and grandma were close by, for we lived next to my parents.

My husband ran a successful supermarket in the neighbourhood. Supermarkets in Syria are different from here, they are more like meeting places for the neighbourhood. No-one goes to a large supermarket, but rather to the a local one. In the store you will hear what’s going on in the neighbourhood. A ‘neighbourhood newsletter’ of sorts. Especially during the time of protest and later of war, the locals had a lot to talk about. Since the supermarket is in the west side of the city, it has survived to this day, albeit under a different name. It was taken over after we left.

My husband left for the Netherlands after two years of war. Business was very difficult during the war. The first year was still OK, but it got worse and worse after that. The shop got fewer and fewer products, many products were no longer available. We had little income, as many people hardly had any money to do shopping. Fortunately, it was still fairly safe in Aleppo back then, but everyone foresaw escalation. In 2013 I left for Turkey to wait for the news of our family reunification. That took about a year. Just before we left I got my boys. So they hardly have any memory of Aleppo.

For me the Citadel was the place I loved most. I have fond memories of visits to that spot with friends. We would visit the complex and the shops surrounding it. One day I hope to return and pick up my old life. I hope Aleppo will become the city it used to be once more."