Muhammad, 38 years old

I arrived in Lebanon with my family on the 1st of February 2011. We came from Homs. When the events started in Homs the situation became unbearable for us. We could not stay at home so we went to the countryside of Homs, and we stayed there for about 5 months before the bombings started again. I decided then to take the family to the countryside of Damascus where we stayed for 7 more months before it started all over again… Hence we left again and went back to Mahin. From there, I fled together with my mother and father. Part of my family and I myself left Syria through the Masnaa crossing. The rest of the family, my wife and children, had to cross from Yabroud and then to Arsal. I would have loved to get the whole family through the official borders; it would have been better… but at the time we needed civil registration records for the kids without which we could not go through. That was the reason why they had to enter through Arsal.

When we left the first time, when we left Homs, we did not think it would be for too long and we barely brought anything with us. We took a bag containing our papers and a few photos, and my little daughter took a toy in the shape of Tweety Bird. She carried it on her shoulder and did not let go of it for a moment. Even when one of her closest friends tried to take the bag she refused to give it to him. She would put all the candy she had in it at night and sleep next to it. After we fled from our neighborhood of Karm al-Zeintoun there was a massacre and our house burnt down. It is only then that we realized that going back would not happen in the near future.

I have a sort of fear in me… the second I feel there is tension, the moment I sense that things are taking a turn for the worse, I just take my children and flee. I think that once it really starts, there will be no possibility to escape anymore. We lived with some friends who owned an unfinished building for about a year in Arsal area. They gave us a room there. Even though it was a small space we felt comfortable. This was the case until the shelling of Arsal started. I felt the same fear again, I was afraid of what could happen. I called my sister who was living in collective housing in Koucha and we came here in the end.