Sixteen children crowd around him to listen as he speaks.
In another room, where the women are sitting, they hang laundry on a line across the front of the classroom. Piles of clothes sit next to the blackboard at the front of the room. Where desks used to be, they laid down a straw mat and sit on the floor. They have a bathroom outside, and a makeshift kitchen with one tiny sink. They have no hot water heater; they’ve rigged one up that only works in the few hours when there is electricity.
SD: How many families are living in this school?
Abu Ammar: We have 15 families here. We are from Menagh. When we left our homes, we originally went to Aleppo, but when the battle started there, we came here. We left Menagh five months ago. Even insects can’t enter Menagh now. The crops are still standing there without being harvested. Olive trees, tomatoes. Nuts are still on the trees and the wheat is still on the ground.
We came here from Aleppo two and a half months ago.
SD: How is the situation here?
Abu Ammar: You see the life here — [he gestures to the room ] — it’s a very bad situation. We have one bathroom and one kitchen for all these people. There are some rooms with two or three families living in them.
A few weeks ago, some good people gave us some food. They gave us a box with two kilos of sugar, one kilo of tea, one bottle of oil, and two kilos of rice. That’s not enough. That’s nothing among all these people. Every so often, someone gives us a box with different items in it. Some of our help has come from Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and Bahrain.
All the world sees the Syrian people killed, but they all keep silent and the majority of the countries support Bashar in killing us. They always appear on television and say Bashar must leave. They can stop this war, but they don’t want to do that.
SD: How are you preparing for winter?
Abu Ammar: [He points to a small stack of folded blankets in the room.] The Free Syrian Army, who is responsible for us, didn’t give us blankets. These blankets are from a neighbor.
We can’t prepare for winter. Diesel is 80-90 Syrian pounds a liter. We don’t have money to buy it. The electricity, even if you want to use it, you can’t because it cuts off all the time.
The [regime] soldiers went to our town after the shelling, and looted all the houses, and burned them all. If the world keeps silent, they will kill us one by one, step by step.
SD: What do you want the world to do?
Abu Ammar: We need a safe zone. We need the world to stop these jets that are bombing us and we will protect ourselves by our own hands. The FSA doesn’t have weapons, doesn’t have anything. They need help. How can they help us? They can’t even buy bullets for their Kalashnakovs.
SD: Are the children living here going to school?
Abu Ammar: We don’t have money to buy books or pens. So the kids don’t go to school. There is no one standing with the Syrian people. There are meetings and meetings, but no results. After the meetings, the regime kills us more than yesterday. The international envoys just give the regime more time to kill us.