Shaker is a man with a poetic, yet wounded soul; a musician and painter who suddenly found himself away from home. He fled the violence in Syria with his wife and four children and now lives in Za’atri camp. They have only been here for twenty days, and are finding it difficult to adapt to the harsh conditions and the fact that they are now refugees.
Shaker told the story of his struggle in Syria; he comes from Der’aa, but his neighborhood remained relatively calm, he says, until recently where repeated searches and arrests left them living in fear. There was no more water or electricity, and it became increasingly difficult to get food. “The neighborhood was empty, there was no life”, he recounted his last days in Syria. His fourteen year-old daughter, Saffana, showed me pictures of their house in Syria “we just got that wall decorated, we didn’t have time to enjoy it”, she described, pointing me to the pictures. She flipped through some her father’s drawings; “we left them all in Syria”.
We had the pleasure to hear Shaker play the oud, but he misses his instruments; “I had three violins, one of which was an expensive German violin, and an accordion. I wanted to bring them with me but I was afraid of what people would say. So I left them in Syria, leaving my soul back with them.” His other daughter Bissan also plays the accordion, and when they heard bombings and shooting she would play with her father to distract her younger siblings and drown out the sound of the bullets. “I miss my accordion; I wish I have it here with me to play.”
The family is now safe and all together, but all what they want is to return to Syria. As Shaker described: “I am here, talking to you, but I am dead on the inside”.