Destruction n North-West Syria. | © HI partners / HI
Elyas (nickname) is a member of HI’s team in North West Syria. He lived through the earthquake. He also took part in the emergency response put in place by HI.
The situation for my family is better now. After a couple of weeks of sleeping in our car, my wife and I decided to go back to our second-floor apartment. I am a civil engineer and I can tell if a building is safe or not. Apart from some cracks in the walls, it was safe to return to our building. I just moved a few blocks of concrete outside, as they were too dangerous.
Not all of our neighbours have come back. Some prefer to stay in a tent in the shelter camps. They are still too afraid. Many people are in the camps because their homes have been destroyed. But these days, the weather is very bad. It is cold and it is raining.
I have bought two rabbits for my five-year old daughter so she can take care of them and think about something other than the earthquake. She is still deeply shocked.
It has been six weeks since the earthquake and I am back at work with the rest of the HI team. There are around 20 of us sharing an office. The building is safe, but we have set up some tents in the garden outside just in case there are other tremors. People are still anxious about aftershocks or another earthquake and feel safer when they have the option of working in a tent rather than a building.
At the office, my colleagues and I have created a WhatsApp group to stay connected at all times and exchange useful information and news.
I drive to the office; it takes 30 minutes. In the first few days, there was debris on the roads, but they have cleared it now and the traffic is back to normal.
My wife and I call each other or exchange messages a lot. We check on each other all the time. She is stronger than I am. My wife is a maths teacher, but she hasn’t taught since the earthquake and stays at home with our daughter.
I don’t think about myself, I am afraid for my family. I am afraid to go to work and leave them. I would prefer to be with them all day long. After such a traumatic event, is it possible to get back to a normal life?