A Syrian Muslim woman sits at the top of Qassioun Mount, which overlooks Damascus city, at sunset and prays before eating her Iftar meal during the month of Ramadan in 2010. (file) REUTERS

Lulu, by her own account a student in Damascus, tells us that city residents try to continue their everyday lives even as they navigate everything from road blocks to bodies in the streets. She also tells us about her own struggles to maintain a normal life in Damascus. She remains hopeful that she will be able to resume her university classes if schools reopen. Lulu is purportedly from the Mashrua Dummar district near Jabil Quasyoon.

The Syrian government restricts international reporters from entering the country. We invite Syrians on both sides of the conflict (or neither side) to tell the world how they cope with street violence, human tragedies, political chaos and economic loss in their daily lives. Syria Witness reports cannot be independently verified and, for personal safety reasons, some contributors do not use their real names. Texts are edited to improve clarity and style, but no changes to content are made.

By Lulu, Damascus, September 22, 2012

A typical day in Syria is like this: we wake up early in the morning from the sounds of bombshells from afar. Then we turn on the television to find out how many people died the night before. We trust the numbers because they are being given by special people whose job it is to know how many people died daily.

How much we see depends on where we are and how much happens every day. Where I am now, nothing much happens, just gun shots and the sounds of shelling. But in the countryside – that’s where things happen. We can no longer get out of our areas because we are scared that we might encounter an explosion, and now we are all afraid of what might happen tomorrow.

What do we see? As I said, it depends on the area. Where I live, all we can see are random tanks on the sides of the roads, soldiers alert and holding their guns against anyone who walks by, and helicopters flying at night without turning on their lights.

But where some of my friends are living, what they see is different. They see tanks and soldiers, but some days they see dead people left on the side of the street. No one knows where they came from or how to take them out because of snipers [always present] on top of the buildings.

It is very hard to leave my area, but not my house. After all, life goes on. We can’t just stay at our houses, afraid. We have to have money in order to support our families. My dad’s job has stopped due to what’s going on, but my mother and I still have our jobs at a school within our area.

‘We still have faith that things will come to an end soon… hopefully.’

Right now, we have refugees living in the schools because they had to leave their houses or because where they are living is being targeted. They need help – they are lacking food, medicine, blankets and more.

Almost all of my friends left the country. Why haven’t we left? Well, where would we go? It’s hard leaving behind what you have been building for the past 20 or more years. We still have faith that things will come to an end soon… hopefully. If not, then we might leave, since it’s going to be too risky [to stay].

The world must know that between [the] activists and supporters are normal people being killed every day for no reason at all – Lulu

We are going to do as our dad says, and wait until school starts to decide what to do. Then it depends [on outside factors] what’s going to happen. We will decide. If, because of school, everything started to calm down a bit, then there is no need for us to leave, but if the opposite happens and school stops, then we will leave.

I might be able to go back to school because our area is safe so far, but territory that we think is good is actually bad. Every day, we could hear gun shots from nearby. But we have to get used to it, I guess.

If things are still this bad [next month], I’m afraid we would have to travel. We don’t have school this month, but I think we will start next month. I haven’t decided whether or not to attend yet – it’s all based on my dad’s choice whether to travel or stay.

‘The killing must stop’

What do I think needs to change? Well, everything, but as a start, the government needs to stop from killing so the Free [Syrian] Army will stop. You see, none of this would have happened if the government had dealt with the situation in a different way. But what’s done is done, so now killing must stop, and a solution must come up. In my opinion, [Assad] should resign from his position. Otherwise, killing will continue to take place.

To become a Syria Witness and tell your own inside-Syria story, contact David Arnold, coordinator of our Syria Witness project at syriawitness(at)gmail.com. For safety reasons, we strongly urge you to use a browser-based e-mail (Gmail, Yahoo, Hotmail) and be sure “https” appears in the URL. You can also invite Arnold to Skype at davidarnold70.

 SYRIA WITNESS: In Damascus, Civilian Life Turned Upside Down

Delaney Chambers

Delaney Chambers is a junior reporter and intern at Voice of America. A graduate student in Political Communication at American University, her interest in the Middle East stems from a year spent in Egypt and Syria, where she witnessed the beginnings of the two countries' respective revolutions. With over eight years of journalism experience in the US and UK, she is contributing her regional and linguistic expertise to VOA, Middle East Voices and our social media outlets.