The Past Peaceful Days

Today, when my daughter complained of electricity cut off and of her being compelled to study by candlelight, I wanted to tell her what my father used to tell me when I was a child about his suffering with studying a long time ago. However, I found that by doing this I will tell her lies because when we started studying more than 35 years ago we did not have serious difficulties hindering our study. Schools were available and electricity, though was not so good over the past years, was enough to meet our needs at that time. We lived in an era of great stability, especially after what happened at the end of the eighties.

I compare between the current state of insecurity, instability and the loss of a lot of needs and between what my father was telling me about his childhood and youth during the fifties and sixties in our remote village. He told me about the village's rainy days, the snow and the long and difficult roads that they were passing through to get to school. At that time candles were a luxury because oil lamps were to be used in villages.

There were no schools in every village as it is the case today.  In each gathering of villages there was one school receiving students only from the nearby villages. Yet a lot of children didn't join these schools for different reasons.

Faith, at that time, was firm and determination was great. They worked a lot to build a new state.

At the beginning of the seventies, this state was founded and great efforts were exerted to establish a strong and civilized nation. Education and health became top priorities the state provided to all.

Education nowadays is compulsory and available to all. In each village there is a school, the state has also established schools in small gatherings far from urban areas. So wherever you go in Syria you can see schools, different education establishments and cultural centers. 

Our generation did not really feel the trouble, fatigue and the harsh conditions that our fathers suffered. We enjoyed the outcome of their efforts which ensure us stability, prosperity, security and peace.

Nowadays, our children witness how these glories and edifices are being tampered and sabotaged. Many schools were demolished. Dispensary, health centers and houses have been destroyed. Unfortunately, we see those who destroy and kill saying: "we are here to build a new nation".

I want to tell those people that we are happy with our life. We love it and enjoy the safety and security it offered to us. Stay away from us! We do not want your new ideas, as they are enveloped with the smell of death and destruction.

Amal Farhat

Collective Work A Must, Says Nashawati

The "National and Social Initiative" is seeking,  in cooperation with a number of NGOs based-in- Damascus, to launch social activities with the aim of  consolidating the  national cohesion and upgrading  social discipline.
In a statement to SANA youth bulletin, head of  initiative, Hossam Nashawati clarifies  that the initiative's idea comes according to  the social's  needs of each area through launching   campaigns ,  various activities and workshops in collaboration with the NGOs in society by adopting using the direct techniques of social marketing in a bid to stimulate  the  social feelings , according attention to  their proposals and focusing  on ensuring job opportunities rather than boosting society awareness of volunteers .

"The initiative aims to educate citizens on the  importance of the work in a society, the necessity  to protect it  and to give citizens the opportunity to express their opinions and to shed light on a fact that Syrians are going hand in hand," underscored Nashawati.


"The initiative's main task  is to  unify   the NGO's work  in the service of  citizens and to open channels   of the  traditional society and its habits , according to each area and the activists' pivotal  role , coordinating with concerned ministries and institutions to set out the  social initiatives (goals-definition).

Nashawati pointed to the importance of creative ideas presented  by volunteers as regards the said initiative. And  working to find  out a rapid  mechanisms to be applied into force, due to the need to develop and encourage young of   creative ideas that help pushing the process of participatory and voluntary work forward.
" there is a dire need  to  promote the  culture of collective work  amongst  citizens ", Nashwati concluded.

 

Maysa Wasouf

'Khbrat' advertises for free courses in mid-term break

 Syria's youths in Damascus and its countryside have an opportunity to join free training courses during the February mid-term break.

The advertisement about the courses has been put on the Facebook of the Khbrat initiative launched by the Syria Trust of Development in 2011. [Khbrat is a slang means: experiences].

Thus far, members of the 'Khbrat' Facebook (Facebook.com/groups/khbrat ) reached up to 6000.

"This year, the initiative is to hold new additional courses about how to write an e-mail in a professional way, telephone marketing, mass media appearance, and the seven habits," the initiative's general coordinator, Mr. Alaa Ed-Din al-Aeedy, told the Syria Times reporter.

 He added that the courses, which target university and school students (aged 17-35), also include activities about writing successful plan on projects' management, human resources, body language, communication skills, and public relations.

Initiative's goal

"The fresh courses have been defined according to youths' requirements," al-Aeedy said, stressing that the initiative's goal is to meet society's needs.

These courses are to be held in Damascus (in Baramkeh and Mezzah) and Damascus countryside (in Jaramana) as most of the youths, who are interested in the courses are living in these areas.

"Our strategy is to reach the youths everywhere," al-Aeedy said.

He sees that it is better for youths to join such free of charge courses instead on staying at home during their break time.

"It is true that a lot of youths are travelling abroad, but it will be useful to follow the courses to enter job market wherever."

"We are planning to train trainers in 3-4 months and we expect a great successful in this regard," al-Aeedy said.

Policy changed

In fact, the current circumstances in the country have led to change the initiative's policy which was depending on paying visits to factories that are partners in the initiative.

Most of the factories, especially in areas in Damascus countryside were closed down because of terrorist attacks. So, the initiative is benefiting from the experiences of trainers in those factories.

Now, the new policy is based on holding workshops and training courses in the above mentioned areas (Baramkeh, Mezzah, and Jaramana).

Media sector

As for partners, al-Aeedy said: "Besides the main partners, the initiative has now new ones in media sector such as e-Syria, al-Madina FM, Rotana style FM,  Sawt el-Shabab radio, sawt al-Shaab radio, and Damascus radio."

Participants in the courses are to visit the media centers in order to be briefed on the mechanism of working.

Funding

However, the serious problem that faces developing the initiative's work is funding the advanced courses.

"Funding means development to a professional level," al-Aeedy said, adding that there is a 'good' logistic and media support for the initiative.

"But we need financial support to hold professional courses. We are communicating with businessmen to receive such support. "

The Trust is funding society's needs according to priorities. "Now the top priority is for food and medicine".

Despite the circumstances, the initiative is seeking to expand its work across Syria through, initially, opening centers in Lattakia and Hama provinces.

Youths in shelters

Moreover, the initiative is going to make a survey in the shelters to ask youths there about their needs as regards courses.

"University students' number in the shelters is 25-50," al-Aeedy said.

It is reported that the Trust is supervising 16 shelters in Damascus where displaced citizens, who have fled their homes over the past year, are temporary living.

The Syria Trust for Development is a non-governmental, non-profit organization established in 2001 to empower individuals and communities in Syria to fulfill their role in building their society and shaping their future.

Basma Qaddour

 

 

 

The wind of misleading gossips has carried all the lies about Syria away

Today the level and magnitude of lying has increased dramatically. "The press has caught Mad Lie disease, marked by a loss of appetite for the truth and projectile regurgitation of anything fed to it" Too often the news media slants or covers up vital information to push a particular political or social agenda. Like here in Syria, let us see what did they say about the terrorists in Syria, they told us many lies  through their media," they are just civilians who want democracy and freedom, they have no arms, then many videos were published even on their media, about terrorists killing, kidnapping raping women, and training children to be terrorists!

  Lying is not just a tool for the media or politicians. In our daily lives, it is all too easy to lie. The Washington Times quoted philosophy and legal studies professor Peter Wenz as saying, "Most of us are not tempted to do the worst kinds of things, like murder, but are tempted to do less serious things that we know are wrong.... We tend to rationalize the behavior to make it seem right".... Shocking? Yes! but there is a price to be paid. Lying is dangerous business. One can't know what's going to befall you, once you engage in a lie, In a way, you lose control. Maybe it'll come back to haunt you.  It's difficult to keep up with lying. Often more lies have to be told to protect the first lie. and every lie has to fit the facts available to the person lied to. Then all the lies have to be remembered in every detail or else the liar risks being exposed for what he is. In 1808, Scottish poet Sir Walter Scott penned the now-famous words, "O, what a tangled web we weave, when first we practice to deceive!" .

I want you to read this story….

There once was a woman who did not like what a certain old and wise teacher would say to her. One day the old woman's words were more than she could bear. It was the truth, but it made her so angry that she really began to butt. She went everywhere telling lies and evil stories about her teacher. She tried very hard to turn people against her with her terrible talk and gossip, but the more she talked, the sadder she became. At last she was very unhappy, and began to feel sorry for all the lies she had told.

Finally in tears, the woman went to the teacher's home to ask her to forgive her. The old woman did not answer her for a long time. She seemed to be deep in thought. At last she said," yes I will forgive you, but first you must do something to me."

" What do you want me to do?" She asked, a little surprised,

" come with me up to the roof and I will show you, but first I need to get something from my room."

When the teacher returned from her room, she was carrying a big feather pillow under her arm. The woman was astonished and out of breath, they finally reached the top floor.

Suddenly, without saying anything the teacher ripped open the pillow and dumped all of the feathers out. The soft breeze blew, picked them up and carried the feathers everywhere. The teacher and the woman watched the feather flutter away for some time. At last the old teacher turned to the woman and said, " Now I want you to go and pick up all those feathers for me." " pick up all of those feathers?" she gasped. " But that is impossible."

" Yes I know ." said the teacher " those feathers are like your lies about me. What you have started you cannot stop, even if you are sorry, you may be able to tell a few people that you told lies about me, but the winds of gossip have carried your lies everywhere. You can blow out a match, but you cannot blow out the great forest fire that one match can start."

I am telling you this story, because that is exactly what happened to Syria, they( America, Qatar Turkey….) started to lie, and lie, until they betrayed some, or many people, just to destroy Syria, for the benefit of Israel, we have paid a lot from the innocent's blood, but at all costs everything is becoming clear and obvious now.

We are Syrians we do not give up, we do not quit before the victory, anything wonderful can happen in that little margin of time when we do not give up, but keep on believing. Strong faith will have many times  overcome seemingly insurmountable obstacles and handicaps.

Boutheina Al-nounou

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Lost Hopes

 I woke up this morning very disappointed that all my private things had been disappeared. I used to listen to the angel voice of Fairouz every morning but when I switch on the radio today I didn't hear that sweet voice and enjoy the charming music which used to move me from reality to a world of dreams , I discovered that I didn't even dream last night .

I tried to switch on TV but there was no power, I couldn't even wash my face because there was no water. I went to the kitchen for a cup of coffee hoping that drinking my morning coffee will improve my mood but unfortunately there was no gas.

I dressed quickly and left the house heading to my job. I met scores of people waiting for the bus. I was surprised to see them frowning. I felt  that all of them were just like me . They didn't listen to Fairouz and couldn't wash their faces and drink their morning coffee. I couldn't find a single smile on any of their scowling faces.

Amid this crowd, I tried to phone my boss to tell him that I will be late but in vain, because my mobile phone was out of the coverage area.

I didn't know how long it took me to arrive at work. The time I stepped inside the hall I felt that I was a strange person  in a strange place . I felt that I don’t belong to this place and I didn't Know those people.

The noise of the colleagues, their laughs , their lovely talks and funny stories and all the beautiful things that I used to experience in this place have been vanished.

I decided to make a complaint about my dear stolen things; Fairouz sound, electricity, water, smile, life and all the lovely things that were confiscated from my life, but really I didn't know to whom shall I submit this complaint.

Amal Farhat   

Let us spread " peace and love" to all the world

I am so tired of all the wars, all the terrorist attacks, all the tragedies around us, it would be nice if the world would be at peace. I don't think the world has ever seen world peace, not even for a day. That should be what most people strive for.

I want to introduce those who have a kind and compassion heart, in a world that has turned cold and callous, the world is full now of people that are cruel, evil, unkind, un caring, unloving. Yes, but I think there are some people in the world who care, who are understanding, loving, kind, compassionate and are concerned for the welfare of others.

I will tell you a story of a woman who sent me email, to speak about her pains, her agony, her depression, because she lost her only son, in the terrorist attack on Aleppo's university, she wanted me to translate her letter, and publish it in our newspaper, may be those people who have compassion for others, see what US, Turkey, and Qatar did in our safe country, to see one of thousands of the tragedies that spring from what they called Arab spring.

She said: " My damaged soul will never heal after the torment of the loss of my only son, no one to comfort me, no one to chase the nightmares away, I know he is now in heaven, but he never had a chance at life, I would give everything to be able to see him, to see his smile and laugh, I always took his picture with me and passed it around for everybody to look at it, to see how much he had innocent look, innocent face, and a lovely smile.

Do you have children?  if you have, hold them tight, love them with every ounce of love you have, spend more time with them, because I realized that all the small things I was worried about were insignificant, beside sitting with your children, the most important thing is to live life to the fullest, and never take anything for granted, life is not a right, or  privilege, it is a blessing, because every day you leave your house, you run the risk of never returning, every night you go to sleep, you could end up staying asleep forever, by these terrorist attacks, you never know how precious life really is until you've lost everything that is important to you, my beloved son .

I am going to miss him so much, I will live a constant pain, I didn't know grief is pain, it hurts in your heart, without stopping".

At last I say: when a woman's husband dies, she is a widow, when a man's wife dies, he is a widower, when a parent dies, you are an orphan, but when a son dies there is no word for it , because it is very difficult to find a word to suit the pain parents pass by.

I have to believe that out of all these tragedies some change will come, I ask all the people to keep those wrongdoers young men in their prayers, to ask God help them to return to the right pass, because it is enough, yes it is enough, then I am sure that this change will come soon, and wish to those innocent, beautiful souls who died everywhere by terrorist attacks, rest in peace.

Butheina Alnounou

     

Mate: A Friend of Friends Meetings

It is called the drink of the " dearest guests and very close friends ", so when someone calls you to join him and drink with him a glass of Maté, you have to accept his invitation otherwise he will think that you do not like the household and do not respect them.

Sure, It is Maté, the well-known popular drink in the Syrian coastal region, Homs, Al-Qalamoun Mountain area and Al-Sweidaa . It has  established  itself  as one the  basic components of popular culture in Syria.

I liked this drink and I was very curious to know its origin and how it had been introduced to our social culture .So I started to look for the  studies dealing with Maté and following is  the result of my research .

Maté was introduced to the Arab region at the beginning  of the 20th century when many people of the Levant (Belad Al-Sham) ,who  migrated to Southern America and returned back home  bringing this drink with them to their countries. Since then it has become one of the most popular drinks in most areas of this region especially in Syria and Lebanon.

Maté in Syria:

Syria is the biggest importer of Mate where it  imports annually 15 thousand tons.

The most consumption of Mate' is concentrated in Homs and Hama  and in the Syrian coastal villages. At the end of the twentieth century, Mate has become  the most  popular drink for many areas, particularly in Tartous and its countryside. There are some villages like 'Annazeh' where people are drinking Maté adding some local herbs of natural origin - plants such as thyme , wild mint and hyssop .This gives it  more pleasure and good taste. Recenty, many people used to eat nuts while they are drinking  yerba Mate as a new ritual tradition of drinking yerba mate that has been rooted in many regions, cities and villages in Syria.

Benefits of yerba Mate

 

A lot of Mate lovers and many specialists stressed that Maté is very useful in the problems of indigestion and  headaches. It can be considered also as one of energy drinks and serve to reduce the weight and  blood sugar. Yerba mate has been also described as digestive and nutritious . It does not cause  any hurt on heart and nerves such as coffee although it contains caffeine so it generates activity in muscles and nerves and reduces headaches, breathlessness.

 After I polled a group of friends and relatives about this drink, where I asked them, "What does this drink means for them "I got different  answers. A friend said:

In the days of baccalaureate, I used to attend some private lessons at an English teacher in the region, he was drinking yerba mate day and night, and explains that it helps him lose weight, and every week he was giving  us a detailed statistical about his weight, "to make us believe him. He was always urging us to drink Mate as if he wants to tell us Treat with Mate.

Someone else explain his love for Mate  by saying that it helps him to concentrate  during the study, and find it very difficult to study without drinking mate.

"Mate makes meeting with friends more interesting! "When I want to invite  my friend I  tell him "come let us  drink Mate", this  makes him come immediately because he loves yerba mate just like me," he added.

Ddrinking yerba mate is psychologically connected with  community. So to  drink Mate with two or more friends the session will become nicer especially when it is accompanied by conversations,   smoking and enjoying the TV programs with some citrus and nuts. Mate drinkers devoted an important part of their salaries to Mate.

Mate is friend of boredom, laziness, leisure and unemployment and the ritual of drinking  Mate needs to spend long periods of time, not like tea and coffee as they may finish in a very short time, so time can only be  destroyed by drinking Mate.

There is no popular daily drink contests Mate's prestigious, but recently, a very close friend of Mate is generated helping  it killing laziness and Leisure without extracting its  kingship status. It is the waterpipe or hubble bubble. Nowadays, the stores and shops are filled with its diverse tools and equipments and began to find a distinctive place in people's lives...

 

Amal Farhat