I wake up early every morning and head to work by way of Al Mashtal. When I start hearing the different languages, the road signs and ads written in different languages too, and the various costumes, that’s when I completely wake up and remember I’m in Qamishli city.
It’s a city that lives a war without war, a besieged city, a refuge to sons from all the Syrian provinces. The people split a confetti of bread between them, and the widows and orphans of the war.
As usual, on my way to work, I wonder who today’s hero will be, only to meet a silent girl in her twenties.
She beckons to me shyly. I find myself fascinated by the coloured paper and threads and small pieces of fabric that she carries. She looks like an angel spinning coloured dreams.
She points me towards a man brimming with kindness and love – her father. We get acquainted and he tells his story.
“I’ve got seven girls. I was denied college education so I insisted on them getting it and graduating. Only, this little girl of mine, Hayat, she’s deaf.”
He goes on: “Son, people are merciless. Could you imagine, my own brother said: ‘Your daughter is handicapped’.”
I look at the girl, and she looks back in shame. I know for sure how quick-witted deaf people can be in reading body language and facial expressions to understand the people around them.
They’re a lovely family. We talk a lot about Hayat’s childhood and talents. She transforms everything she can lay her hand on into pretty miniatures. She draws, sews and knits – she makes toys and cares for the plants. Their house was more like a gallery for Hayat’s creations.
I photographed her work. Staff at one of the NGOs liked Hayat’s story and asked to meet her, so I accompanied them to her humble home.
They liked her handiwork a lot. Two days later, they gave her a call offering her a contract for three months to make toys for children. Plus they bought all her former handcrafts for excellent prices. The organisation later gave all those toys to kids arriving in Qamishli. Then the contract was extended for a whole year.
No one can imagine the happiness in her and her family’s eyes. The girl, who couldn’t finish school like her sisters, is supporting all of them financially.
Hayat and her father crossed the border to Turkey looking for a doctor who could bring back even a little of her hearing back. Now they have enough money for the treatment.
She creates life in everything she sees and touches. Indeed she is hayat – life.