Juma, 31 years old

I left Damascus on 15th of October 2011. I took a taxi and travelled along the main road from Damascus to Beirut. I had no problems at the border. I was worried that something would happen but it was ok. There was something unexpected that happened though. Before I left I had a strange feeling. There is this land between the borders: between the Syrian side and Lebanese one. When I was crossing the border to Lebanon, I passed the Syrian checkpoint and we entered this ‘no man’s land’. When I got there I felt a kind of relaxation because I had been worried before. Suddenly, in the middle of this no man’s land, I saw Syrian soldiers with guns and it made me feel tense again.

I had a lot of possessions back in Damascus. I left them there. I just brought the most important things: clothes. You really need them. I also managed to bring an item with me, a tablecloth. It is called tantal in Kurdish. I had received it from my older sister. I really like it. It is very colourful, with a lot of brightness. She made it herself. Hand-made. It is traditional for the region that I come from, the North, the Kurdish region. I wanted to keep it with me. In general I do not like colours but it is more like a memory. And you need it daily. My family is still there… in Syria.

When I came here I told myself that I still had my memories and my archives left. They will not get lost; I kept them with a friend, many videotapes. They are important to me, and sure enough, they are considered illegal by the regime.

For me, staying there was "suicidal" – like committing suicide. It is not about danger. If you stay there you are put in a position where you will get killed or will kill someone else. I was working on documentary projects and in the middle of March, when it all began, they were stopped. I stayed for 7 months doing nothing, just sitting at home. It was a very negative feeling.

I felt some euphoria for a moment when it all started but all my friends were in jail, people were getting killed, watching the news was horrible… It was not easy. I could not feel in touch with Damascus anymore, the city I had once liked so much.

We all know that the regime will change but I know it will not be easy, a lot of people will be killed, a lot of blood will be spilled.