For a writing exercise we were to create a background for a central character. I imagined a Syrian refugee. All of this background is fiction but comes from research I did on the situation…
CHRISTIAN SHAMMAS (A Syrian refugee)
Christian Shammas is a 22 year old Syrian refugee. His mother Camila Abdel-Massih (surname means servant of Christ in the Arabic world) was a Palestinian Christian who fled to Syria as a child with her wealthy parentsduring the 1967 war. His father Tabarank Shammas is an Syrian Arab and Sunni Muslim. His father is from poorer farming heritage.
Although interdenominational marriages are not unheard of in Syria they are not common. His mixed faith upbringing led to bullying as a child.
Christians first name in the Arabic tradition means love and his surname means friendship. He likes to introduce himself by pointing this out.
Before having to flee his hometown of Damascus in 2015 he was studying dentistry. He is fluent in English and French. (Both popular second languages in Syria although English is preferred.)
Despite being very well educated Christian is profoundly dyslexic which leads to huge problems for him when he has to flee the country.
During the Arab spring of 2013 he was arrested by Bashar al-Assad security forces with 13’000 other online activists and severely tortured leading to him walking with a severe limp.
He has a seven year old sister Mary Shammas who is entirely uneducated in any formal way.
During some carpet bombing Christian and his sister were separated from his parents. He doesn’t know if they are alive or dead. He has no idea which side was behind the bombing but is determined to find out.
As a refugee in Syria he is recognised by two of Assad’s secret police who threaten to rape his sister. He kills them both with a pistol he found in some ruins.
This forces him to flee the country with his sister with money he has stashed. He makes it to “The Jungle” refugee camp in France which is where we find him.
The only physical possessions he has apart from the clothes on his back is an I-pod and charger. The I-pod is filled with the poems of Syrian poet and Nobel Prize nominee Adunis.
He quotes this poetry often to his sister when she is distressed. The I-Pod is also filled with songs by Elvis. Listening to Elvis also helps calm his sister.
Whilst at the camp his young sister is being targeted by human traffickers.
The camp is now to be demolished and to protect his sister Christian agrees to have her moved to the UK. He has no idea how to contact her once this happens. Christian is to remain stranded in France. Whilst at the camp he befriends a Syrian man named Sayid Burhan who helps him with daily life. For the journey to the UK he entrusts his sister to Sayid. Unbeknownst to Christian he is the leader of a child trafficking group. Christian finds out the truth a day after he last sees his sister.
“To the country dug into our lives like a grave, to the country etherized, and killed, a sun rises from our paralyzed history into our millennial sleep” ― Ali Ahmad Said Asbar Adunis
“What did we lose, what was lost in us? To whom do these distances belong that separated us and that now bind us? Are we still one or have we both broken into pieces? How gentle this dust is- Its body now, and mine, at this very minute are one and the same” ― Adonis, If Only the Sea Could Sleep
“If only we were not that seedling of Creation, Of Earth and its generations, If only we had remained simple Clay or Ember, Or something in between, Then we would not have to see This World, its Lord, and its Hell, twice over.” ― Adonis