Shahed, 38 years old

I came to Lebanon in August 2012. We are from the countryside of Homs. Fear is what drove us out of Syria. I thought we were not leaving for long. I only brought a blanket, a pillow and a lighter because I smoke. The pillow reminds me of the smell of my house in Syria. I wanted to keep this smell with me. Every morning I wake up as if I had been living in a dream. I dream of going back to Syria; of sitting under the shade of a tree. Here, I keep getting sick. I have been sick for 15 days and I cannot afford to go to the doctor… I cannot even get medicine for my headache.

In the beginning, we went to a town close to ours, then my brother and my uncle’s family moved to the Bekaa. After a short while he told us to follow him and his wife. We crossed the border officially; honestly, we crossed and came here through Hermel. At that time they were not as thorough with Syrians at checkpoints as they are now. There were none of the restrictions that exist today; no one asked you where you were coming from or going to. You could simply cross and bring whatever you wanted from your house. We came to Talya, close to Baalbak, where we stayed for approximately a year, until we moved again. We stayed in Syria for 2 years without food and water… you would be sitting there when a rocket or shell could hit you at any given point in time. It was not bearable anymore.

My brother was arrested… he was caught here at the al-Faour checkpoint and he did not have any ID on him. He had lost it in Syria and you find yourself having to explain things to the whole world and no one believes you. They kept my brother in prison for a month before we were able to pay the 500 000 Lebanese pounds to get him and my brother-in-law out. 500 000 pounds each! They got out with green papers. Now my brother carries it around everywhere he goes and sometimes he can get it extended for 15 or 20 days. However, every 20 days it is the same: he either gets an extension or he comes back, and each time he has to pay for transportation.

My older brother has been settled in Lebanon for 7 or 8 years and works in Dahieh. One day, on his way back home, a group of men intercepted him and stole everything he had, including his money and ID. Recently the General Security told him that those were his last 6 months in Lebanon. He will not get a visa extension anymore. Where will he go? Back to Syria now?! He will be slaughtered! He did not witness the revolution or any of the events; he did not even come to visit during these years.