Karam Alhlpi (28)
Student 'project management', Aid worker
"My name is Karam Alhlpi (nickname). I was born and raised in Aleppo and I left in 2015 because of the war. I studied project management at the University of Aleppo.
There was no freedom in Aleppo because of Assad's Government. Before the war, when someone tried to take a picture of something happening in the streets, you might go to jail or be killed for it. Before the Revolution started we couldn’t talk about anything related to politics. The Government tried to steal everything from the people and their freedom as well. When the Revolution started, Aleppo was divided into two sides, I lived in the east part of the city. Here the rebels stayed and people felt free to speak about the political situation, although it wasn’t safe. But it was better than living on the safe side and feeling not free.
During the war the circumstances were bad. There was no water, food, electricity or medicine. The sky was filled with airplanes, bombing during the night and in the morning. One day there was a big bombing and I went there on my motorbike to take pictures. Another bomb hit the same area. I fell and broke my arm and small metal parts from the bomb were in my head. People picked me up and brought me to the hospital. When I returned from the hospital I decided not to go back to the situation and run away.
After one year in war I decided to go to the east side. There I lived another 3 years during the war. Before the war I lived with my family, but during the war I left to the east and lived with a friend. We set up a media office together to send different kind of media into the world to show Syria’s situation. Photos, movies and we used a Facebook channel. My family stayed where they were. I demonstrated against Assad, a lot of people wanted to demonstrate but feared consequences. The military would respond to it in a terrible way. In 2011 I was arrested while I was demonstrating at the University and because I worked in a human aid organisation. Assad didn’t allow people from Syria to work in human aid.
I was arrested and jailed for 21 days. I stayed in a really small cell where I could only stand up, there was no room to sit down. There are people in this situation for years. I returned to work in the same field because I believe in this work.
During the war I lived close to a military point where many people were killed. I lived only 200 metres from there. My uncle was killed by a sniper when we were together at my media office. I was lucky, my uncle wasn’t. I learned to deal with all kind of situations: every day there was someone else killed in this area by a sniper.
Most people have left the east side of Aleppo now, because they are afraid to get killed. No civilians are allowed to stay there according to Assad. The military stole everything from the people and brought it to the other side. People are burning their own cars and houses because they are afraid that the military will do it anyway.
I think a lot of Aleppo. My favourite places in Aleppo are The Omajjadenmosque (The Big Mosque), an area called The Iron Gate and of course my old neighbourhood, close to the Castle in the Old City."