“We Were Lucky”

Fleeing the crisis in Syria as told through the views of students Sara and Omar Oughourli

Standing in the snow, siblings Omar and Sara Oughourli smile at the camera. As reported by Al Jazeera, Syrian refugees are among the hardest hit by record low temperatures across the Middle East. “It all contributed to the same thing, the prices would rise, things would get harder to obtain. Eventually you either had to leave or adapt to the situation.” Omar Oughourli said.

Photo submitted by Omar Oughourli

Standing in the snow, siblings Omar and Sara Oughourli smile at the camera. As reported by Al Jazeera, Syrian refugees are among the hardest hit by record low temperatures across the Middle East. “It all contributed to the same thing, the prices would rise, things would get harder to obtain. Eventually you either had to leave or adapt to the situation.” Omar Oughourli said.

Maryam Majid and Sanjana Raghavan

Hang on for a minute...we're trying to find some more stories you might like.


Email This Story






In the most basic terms, the Syrian Civil War is an uprising of the Syrian people against the Assad regime which has been in power since 1971. This uprising was the result of religious, political, and economic problems that eventually led to rebellion and broke out into war. Since the war has started, countless people have been killed and even more have fled the country or been displaced and separated from their families.

Omar: “(Our life) was normal until about three years ago, which was when things started to go downward.”

Omar: “We lived in Aleppo for nine years-”

Sara: “-that’s in the north, near Turkey”

Omar: “It didn’t go downward immediately- it escalated. At first you couldn’t really notice it, but you kinda saw the warning signs before things started to get bad. Like you would see on the news a train that would go from Aleppo to Damascus was derailed because of sabotage and you’d understand, ‘Oh, things were starting to get more intense’”.

Omar: “Things like power and electricity were less abundant. At first, it would be like no electricity for two-three hours a day, and then it would be like five or six hours to the point where it was like-”

Sara: “-for months-”

Omar: “-for weeks at a time, then for months. Water, clean water, stopped coming and it became equal with electricity. Heating there is very primitive with oil heating where you have to have oil directly to heat water and take showers.

Omar: “It all contributed to the same thing, the prices would rise, things would get harder to obtain. Eventually you either had to leave or adapt to the situation.

Omar: “I would personally say I was frustrated about it because I had friends who left before I did. My best friend was kinda like my situation, he was born in America then he came to Syria a year faster I did. He left two years before I did. We came to America last year in October.

Omar: “He didn’t experience any kind of pain that we felt. Over the course of the year the rest of our friends started leaving, they were able to leave. The reason why we didn’t leave was because our parents were adamant that it would get better, but obviously it didn’t.

Sara: “The teachers weren’t able to come to school at times and even students wouldn’t come to school because they knew it was kinda dangerous to pass by and that was another impact on some of us.

Omar: “It’s kind of half the students fault, because they got the idea that independent learning institutions…kids thought the institutions would teach more. Like in my school, kids would go to school and get on the attendance list, and during break, the kids would climb the walls just to attend the institutions. Cause for some reason the institutions’ times of opening coincided with the schools’ times, which caused chaos. And then students wouldn’t show up to classes, and the teachers couldn’t teach anyone, because there would only be five kids in a class of twenty-thirty kids. But they taught us as well as they could and helped us try and pass.

Omar: “I guess maybe the price of everything got too high… My dad was the one who decided. I really have no idea why he decided to leave. My sister, my mother and I were all suffering and all three of us wanted to leave, he (my dad) just decided that it was time to go.

…ISIS was getting closer and they were hearing a lot of news that they were forcing things on people as young as us, forcing boys to join their army and girls to marry them.”

— Sara Oughourli

Sara: “One of the factors of why we should leave, other than the money and the situation was more because my aunt was actually telling him that… you know ISIS was getting closer and they were hearing a lot of news that they were forcing things on people as young as us, forcing boys to join their army and girls to marry them. One of my aunts feared that (would happen to us) and told my dad to just get out, go, leave.

Omar: “And the chances of us leaving Syria were closing, because certain routes they were starting to take over or close them. Basically it was in a state of chaos and lack of technology because they are old fashioned, it’s getting more chaotic and worse because everybody wants to leave. Every person is rushing to get a Syrian passport and it’s kind of fascinating to see lines of people outside the government building to get the passport and yet we still managed to get it. Other people were leaving and they didn’t have Syrian passports, but one of my parents thought that as an extra precaution we would need a Syrian passport and we did, thankfully just to get from Syria to Lebanon because they needed to see documentation.

Omar: “Surprisingly, when we came here, we thought it would be very different. It’s funny, the only thing we understood from movies and TV over there was that high school would be a very tough place, and I was scared when I came here. I wouldn’t worry about myself; I would worry about my sister, that she would be ridiculed for wearing the hijab. And when we came here, it was surprisingly almost the same as Syria, even slightly better. I thought we’d get culture shocked, but everyone here was accepting and not even just accepting, they didn’t even notice, they didn’t even point it out, which was cool.

Sara: “(The war) is stupid; I don’t even understand how it happened in the first place. First of all, I feel embarrassed for (the refugees fleeing Syria)-

Omar: “-like they’re being exploited.

Sara: “I don’t know if there’s a way to solve it- unless, I don’t know, someone buys an island and puts them there… Some countries are being somehow welcoming, which is good. Another thing would be if the whole situation just ends, which is kinda impossible. Yeah, the solution is kinda impossible.

Sara: “As much as I’m glad that I’m here, I have friends, not even like the ones in Syria who are somewhat safe, because although they’re facing physical damage, like it might be the bombs or the shells or the shotguns or anything, I have other friends who are living in other places in the world that because they’re Syrians, are being hated. And I have a friend who was actually attacked and hit on the head by a rock; I don’t know how she survived that. They’re not only being physically damaged, they’re being psychologically, mentally damaged.

Sara: “Even from my point of view, I feel like I’m being damaged too. Like, knowing my friends are in that situation, I’m not completely happy and getting a good education and the freedom right now.

Omar: “It’s funny, you know, cause of all the years we were in Syria we wanted to go back to America, not to live here, but because we were born here. And after all these years of waiting I don’t enjoy any of it. I constantly feel like a piece of me is missing because, I don’t know, I just thought I’d feel better or safer, but I don’t. I feel like I don’t deserve this, I’m just lucky, we’re just lucky. We don’t have any advantage over them, we were lucky because my father moved here and worked here for 20 years and has a reputation and history here but they don’t. What chance do they have for surviving? They were born, they’re Syrian, they live in Syria their whole lives and they have no advantage whatsoever to be accepted into a different country.

Omar: “It’s very rare to find people who are adaptable, who can learn another language and be useful to another country because although Syrians are suffering, from a country’s point of view it’s: ‘what can you do to serve us?’

Omar: “I guess they kinda have a point cause they don’t want a bunch of homeless people crowding their streets but I don’t know, everyone’ suffering, and for what? Even in Syria, no one knows why any of this is happening. People claim its religious problems, or people claim it’s for oil or whatever, but nobody knows.

Sara: “None of it makes sense, how it all started. I can relate it to maybe past events, something from like ten years ago, but it’s not something new, it’s something people will have to be researching from square one. Basically, it has to do with thirty years ago-”

Omar: “-too many lies.

Sara: “I feel like if I have to live my life right now, I have to dedicate my work for those who can’t get the education they’re meant to get.

Omar: “What basically she’s trying to say, it’s very hard to put into words how we feel. How we want to help cause we don’t even know what to do with ourselves.

Sara: “We feel like as a high school student, what can a high school student do?

Omar: “Regardless of if you’re a high school student or not, so many people in positions of power, they’re doing nothing. It’s kinda funny, when you’re a kid, you expect adults to solve everything, and when you’re an adult, what can you do?

Sara: “It’s always what will you do to benefit me? That’s why I hate politics, it makes no sense.

Omar: “When you’re a kid, all you wanna do is grow up, but then you grow up in a situation where you get to see both sides of the coin, you kinda become cynical.

 

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Navigate Right
Navigate Left
  • Features

    Escaping the Ashburn Bubble

  • “We Were Lucky”

    Features

    Swimming Into Success

  • A & E

    A Preview of “Disney’s The Little Mermaid”

  • Features

    Brandon Wakefield: An Inside Look

  • “We Were Lucky”

    Features

    What Really Matters

  • “We Were Lucky”

    Features

    Whole New World

  • “We Were Lucky”

    Features

    Seniors say Farewell to Mrs.Bush

  • “We Were Lucky”

    Features

    Prom Prep

  • Features

    Oscars

  • Features

    Back to the Future…Again

“We Were Lucky”