Inside Stories: stories of resilience during the pandemic is a series of conversations with people who have been displaced by war, conflict or persecution about their lives, thoughts and hopes for others.
After spending several years in Canada, Syrian-born Iman Al Ghafari returned to her homeland just a few months before the war broke out. Her peacebuilding work with Initiatives of Change International and their programme Creators of Peace, enabled her to bring women together across divides to explore peace at a time of war. As a peacebuilder and a changemaker Iman inspires the women around her through the support and leadership groups she facilitates in person, and more recently on-line. Iman currently lives in Damascus, Syria.
“This time reminds me of the eight years of war in Syria where everything and every minute was vague and uncertain. Now is a time when you have to choose between two paths; either to focus on prayers, creative hope and the present time or to give up to fear, depression and doubts. I’ve lived that experience before. This time of pandemic is like at ‘time out’ for the whole world. We are all frozen; unable to move and indulged in our deep thoughts, life and selves. For me, it is a prison to be forced to stay home but an invitation to look at the picture of life from my own window. The sky, breeze, birds and the sun make a great portrait but I watch this beautiful portrait differently now as I am not in it … I am a watcher now.
What is on your mind right now?
Like everyone else, fear invaded me at certain times especially when I listened to the news, people’s comments and concerns. This helped me to understand deeply people’s frustration, especially Syrians who have been overwhelmed by the war and the economic situation in the country due to sanctions. Living all these crises and then being hit by the pandemic has been too much to handle. Yet I have a path to choose. I do believe that I can’t run away from destiny. I can be careful and mindful but I can’t let fear dominate my life. Also, I can’t postpone plans and wait for this crisis to finish. I have to do something that can sustain me and other people. I am a part of the circle. I am a part of this earth. I am sure there is something I can do even to bring a smile to someone’s face. This is the right time to go into our deep selves and share with others. My wisdom is. “In case you have nothing to offer, please don’t spread your fear and worry”. I do feel sorry for the ones who passed away and their families. I do hope we can find a way to support them on-line and listen to them and their pain.
“This time reminds me of the eight years of war in Syria where everything and every minute was vague and uncertain. Now is a time when you have to choose between two paths; either to focus on prayers, creative hope and the present time or to give up to fear, depression and doubts.”
Let’s learn from the Earth. Our mother Earth has been healing herself during social isolation. We need to isolate ourselves from the busyness and stresses of life. We need to re-connect with our deep selves. We should observe what’s happening outside and inside. Never give up on planting the seeds of hope. If you can’t, then distract yourself with something you like to do. It is the right time to do it or try to learn a new thing. Remember that everything is changeable. And sometimes things change dramatically for a better cause. ICOSE
I = Isolation
C = Connection to ourselves and others
O – Observation
S = Self & life Evaluation
E = Energize yourself with hope and optimism
Make every day a new life born day.”
‘You have three enemies in life… fear that destroys the mind, sadness that troubles the heart and anger that separate relationships. Be aware of them! Iman Al Ghafari
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Creators of Peace International