Joanna, 22 years old

I came to Lebanon around 3 years ago because of the continuous bombing of my hometown of Tel Kelekh by the regime army. I used to come to Lebanon because I have relatives here but this time was different because now we are refugees. We used to go for 10 days at a time and would then return to Syria but, this time, I think we are here to stay until the regime is gone.

I brought with me pictures of my friends and family members. I wanted to keep them with me. Despite the bombings, my house was still ok when I left. But after I crossed the borders we saw on YouTube that our house was totally destroyed. It was a good thing I brought these pictures with me because they would have been lost in all that destruction. I would have lost some of my memories.

I crossed the border legally, by myself. My family - my mother and sisters - crossed before me on the same day because we could not pass all together. Although I was crossing on my own, they realized some family members with the same name had crossed before and they stopped me to check on it. They kept asking: "Why are you going to Lebanon? Why did not all of you go together?"

It appeared they just wanted some money from us so we bribed them. They said that without paying any money they would not allow me to cross. They went through my luggage. Another family was crossing at the same time as me but they were not allowed across the border. The trip took 1 hour from Tel Kelekh to Dabussy. I did not have any problems at all once I was on the Lebanese side. I travelled from Aleppo to Homs. Then I took the road to Tel Kelekh and Dabussy. In the end I arrived in Tripoli. I spent 10 days in Tel Kelekh to see what was going on. At the time Aleppo was still calm. Those 10 days were unbearable. Yes, Tel Kelekh was bombed in the early days. Bullets shot through every wall in our house. Our neighborhood was attacked because we had a field hospital in our street, across from our house. I thought I was going to die the very next moment. There was no way I could have a life in this house. We heard the bombs used by the regime can go through 4 walls and we only had one roof above our heads. Therefore we made the decision that there was no way we could stay.
I do not know how long I can stay here for. Even if the regime was gone, we have no houses in Syria anymore. It would be a while before we could settle back in Syria after losing all our clothes and furniture that was either stolen or burnt. I used to study business management at Aleppo University but I had to break off my studies.