Ibrahim Khaled -- He has fair skin and hazel eyes. His short black hair has a vivid golden streak running along the upper left side of his head, following the track of a bullet wound. He is tall and much too skinny now. He is Syrian, originally from Damascus. He speaks Arabic and English. Ibrahim lost everything in Syria -- his job, his home, his family. As a history teacher, he recognized the signs of societal collapse early on. He managed to escape, and picked up two orphaned boys along the way, first Darwish and later Nadir. Then other refugees started turning to him for guidance, and he couldn't just abandon them. So now he finds himself the leader of a bedraggled group of people who want to settle somewhere as unlike Syria as possible. Ibrahim struggles to keep on, but sometimes he feels completely unprepared for the life he has.
Qualities: Master (+6) Kindness, Expert (+4) Survivor, Expert (+4) Father, Good (+2) Leader, Good (+2) Muslim, Good (+2) Tough
Poor (-2) Life Is a Struggle
Darwish Khaled -- He has light brown skin, brown eyes, and short black hair. He is 9 years old. He speaks Arabic, and Ibrahim is teaching him English. Darwish lost his whole family in Syria, but he survived. While fleeing the war, he traveled from Hama to Latakia and there encountered Ibrahim, who adopted him. Later they found Nadir and took him in too. Darwish is fiercely protective of his adopted family, but fears losing them, which makes him clingy.
Qualities: Good (+2) Observant, Good (+2) Protective, Good (+2) Tough
Poor (-2) Clingy
Nadir Khaled -- He has tinted skin, brown eyes, and short hair of coffee brown. He is 7 years old. He is Syrian, originally from Aleppo. He speaks Arabic, and Ibrahim is teaching him English. His entire family died in the Syrian war, but Nadir eluded their killers. While hiding in the ruins, he met Ibrahim and Darwish, who adopted him.
Qualities: Good (+2) Hopeful, Good (+2) Survivor
Poor (-2) Malnourished
* * *
"Out of suffering have emerged the strongest souls; the most massive characters are seared with scars."
-- Kahlil Gibran
This map shows the displacement of Syrian refugees, and here you can see their possible escape points and the routes they follow into other countries.
Main article: Timeline of the Syrian Civil War
Protests, civil uprising, and defections (March–July 2011)
Main article: Civil uprising phase of the Syrian Civil War
Further information: Timeline of the Syrian Civil War § Protests, civil uprising, and defections (March–July 2011)
Initial armed insurgency (July 2011 – April 2012)
Main article: Early insurgency phase of the Syrian Civil War
Further information: Timeline of the Syrian Civil War § Initial armed insurgency (July 2011 – April 2012)
Kofi Annan ceasefire attempt (April–May 2012)
Main article: Kofi Annan peace plan for Syria
Further information: Timeline of the Syrian Civil War § Kofi Annan ceasefire attempt (April–May 2012)
Third phase of the war starts: escalation (2012–2013))
Main article: 2012–13 escalation of the Syrian Civil War
Further information: Timeline of the Syrian Civil War § Third phase of the war starts: escalation (2012-2013)
Rise of the Islamist groups (January–September 2014)
Main article: Inter-rebel conflict during the Syrian Civil War
Further information: Timeline of the Syrian Civil War § Rise of the Islamist groups (January–September 2014)
By 2014, Syria had at least 6.5 million internally displaced refugees and over 3 million fleeing to other countries.
Most of Syria has a Mediterranean climate with hot, dry summers and mild, wet winters. Some refugees want to settle in a place similar to their lost home, while others want something as different as possible. Ibrahim and the boys now belong to that second group.
The White Helmets (Arabic: الخوذ البيضاء ,القبعات البيضاء al-Ḫawdh al-bayḍāʾ / al-Qubaʿāt al-Bayḍāʾ), officially known as Syria Civil Defence (SCD; Arabic: الدفاع المدني السوري ad-Difāʿ al-Madanī as-Sūrī), are volunteers active in the Syrian Civil War. They focus on urban search and rescue after violence, medical evacuation, evacuation of civilians from danger areas, and delivery of essential services.
French and English are used in educated Syrian circles, particularly in Aleppo and Damascus. Of the two, English is more popular.
(These links are harsh.)
Shared pain can forge tight connections between people, as in refugees. Trauma bonding can be positive or negative. There are many aspects of bonding associated with traumatic experiences, and it helps to support healthy connections among survivors or between survivors and caregivers.
(So are these.)
Post-traumatic stress comes from surviving horrific events. Prolonged Duress Stress Disorder, aka Compound-PTSD, comes from experiencing not a single disaster but a series of them or a period of extended abuse. PDSD can be harder to treat if the person never had an experience of being safe or getting help, or if times of safety repeatedly fell back into awfulness again. All refugees escaping from a war zone should be presumed to have PDSD until they can be assessed individually, and should receive trauma-informed care. Understand how to help someone with traumatic stress.
(These links are touchy.)
The core of trauma-informed care is asking "What happened to you?" instead of "What is wrong with you?" This forms the basis of the principles and practices. There are instructions for supporting trauma survivors and working through your own trauma. First responders typically have workplace procedures to minimize the risk of developing PTSD.
Trauma can create challenges in language acquisition and other learning processes. Matching language of retrieval with language of recording can assist people in working through trauma in therapy. Conversely, using a second or later language to discuss fraught topics can make them less stressful. So while trauma can complicate learning a new language, bilingual people have tools to regulate their emotions, and learning a new language can help people set aside traumatic memories.
(These links are damning.)
Refugees are people fleeing war or persecution in their homeland. They have specific legal rights, but these are often violated.
Successful refugee integration requires knowing what works and what doesn't. Effective programs support refugees in gaining employment, education, housing, and social networking. Refugees often need special services for diet, health care, mental care, disabilities, and so on. Their religious needs may differ from the local pattern and must also be met. Those who do not speak English require translators until they become fluent. The more funding available, the better these programs tend to work. Also, it's better to keep refugees in groups large enough that they can support each other through the difficult process of resettlement. Read a handbook on resettlement. Refugees face many challenges to integration. Learn how you can help them.
See Ibrahim's bouquet of tulips.