Yasser and Maria Qaso hid under their beds with their four children as Aleppo, Syria was attacked on 14 July 2012. They lived under bombardment for two years. Each day, to obtain food, Yasser crossed a barrier of bricks and tyres between government and opposing forces. Snipers were positioned to shoot, and he could have been killed at any time.
They sought safety in other Syrian cities, but war followed them. Yasser recalls a terrifying road trip, with missiles and rockets narrowly missing the car. Yasser, a dentist, found work in Iraq and moved his family there in 2016. In 2018 they arrived in Melbourne as refugees.
Yasser and Maria appreciate Australia as a peaceful country. The greatest difference for them, between Melbourne and Damascus, is that the streets here are empty in the suburbs after dark. In Syria, there are people outside, day and night.
Their oldest son, Simon, is gifted mathematically; he can recall in a second, every day of the war he lived through, what happened, and the number of rockets fired. For Simon, memory of the war is magnified many times over. Yasser is studying to become an interpreter and misses his profession. Most of all, he misses his family in Syria.
Sometimes I feel I have to see my family in Syria just for one day, then come back … If it was safe for them there I would feel differently.
Reproduced courtesy of Yasser Qaso
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Reviewed 24 April 2023