The war in Syria began in March 2011. It's estimated that in the nine years since, at least 400,000 people have died. More than 6.6 million Syrians have fled since 2011, and another 6.7 million have been driven from their homes but are still trapped inside the country. Serly Shakkal fled with her family from Aleppo in 2012. Just days later, the airport closed. This is her story.
In 2012, I fled from Syria.
Syria, the country that I was born and raised in. It’s a country where I felt happy and safe. This is not just how I felt, but also how my family and everyone around me felt as well. It was safe to go out at midnight because everyone was out, whether they were eating or walking down the street. At school, we started at 7:30am and finished at around 2pm. Every Friday afternoon we’d have fun activities where we would learn about our religion. I had a group of great friends that I am still in contact with. Life was amazing and simple.
Ever since I was little, I dreamt of visiting Australia. I remember my uncle sending photos of the Harbour Bridge and the Opera House. I imagined we’d maybe go for a holiday, and then come back to our home country of Syria.
But then, in 2011, the war began. I was 10 years old, and the only thing I knew was what I was told: “This is war and we have to make it out safe.” My grandparents used to tell me their stories about war but the reality is that you never know how it really feels unless you’re living in that moment. I thought war was when you have two countries fighting against each other, but in Syria, we had multiple countries against one. Ten years later, there is still war in Syria.
War is when you’re stuck at home, for months, without having the ability to go out. In our case, we weren’t able to go to school. The situation continued to get worse, so people started stocking up on supplies like powdered milk and meat. There was barely any water and electricity was only available for a few hours during the day so we lived on candle lights. But the most horrible thing of all was the constant sound of bombs. We could hear how close they were.