This is a short glimpse of an average human being living under abnormal circumstances in a county that has been going through an armed conflict since March of 2011.
A young man, whom I will call Rami for the sake of this story, is in his mid-twenties and lives just outside of the Syrian Capital Damascus with his parents, two younger siblings and two cats.
He has a small lamps shop, which is within walking distance from his home in his favorite neighborhood. Rami has been facing many challenges in his daily life and now even more so because of Covid-19, which Rami did not see coming.
At 9:00am Rami opens his shop. This week, there is no electricity at this time. At 12:00, he can enjoy testing and fixing his lamps once again. “This week I have electricity from 12:00 till 3:00 and then from 6:00 pm till 9:00 pm but I close at 7:00 pm,” said Rami with a smile and a look of determination in his eyes.
This determination might be the only choice for Rami. He has been, for a while now, the sole provider for his family, which he does not see as an overwhelming responsibility, but rather a duty which he happily tries to fulfill daily.
This duty come with a number of difficulties of its own because not a lot of people buy lamps nowadays, “many have more important responsibilities,” explained Rami. But even when a customer comes in, it’s usually a long bargain before Rami is able to sell one of his precious lamps, or the potential customer leaves without buying anything, which happens more often than Rami would like to see.
This has been his life for the past three years, which sees him doing the same work and making money only to cover the normal expenses of his family and leaving only a small amount for him to save for emergencies.
The emergency came with the current pandemic. The first official case of Covid-19 was registered in the middle of March and a couple of days later, restrictions affecting daily life were imposed. Non-essential shops were ordered to close for three weeks with the possibility of extension. Rami’s small shop was one of these shops, so this caused a big burden to the young man’s life.
“I don’t care about Corona, if I get sick, then I get sick. I just want to open my shop and help my parents,” answered Rami when asked about the current regulations stopping him from opening his sole source of income. His answer was not really a surprise because like many others, taking the risk of getting infected by the virus is a small price to pay if it means earning some money.
The three weeks took a big toll on Rami’s life. He has been quiet, staying in his room alone most of the time. He still has to pay the rent for his shop, buy food and wait. Not knowing if and how long this shut down will continue. The three weeks passed like three years, but they eventually passed, and Rami got his most anticipated news: He can open his shop!
Rami opened his shop at the beginning of the week not caring when the electricity will come and how it will affect his work. He is simply happy to get back to his duty.
What other areas of life are affected by the COVID 19 crisis? And how will the world look after it is over? What do you think it should look like? Join our discussion in the community.
Guest author: Rashad Al-Kaisi
"After studying finance and working with different NGOs in various Middle Eastern countries, I learned the importance of proper research and how to analyze and deliver this information to target audiences. I think this plays a significant role in the Master's program and is one of the main reasons I decided to apply."