Tuesday, June 25, 2024
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Tuesday, June 25, 2024

Sirri Witti: Syrian refugee and earthquake survivor

Sirri Witti, who survived the earthquake that struck northern Syria and southern Turkey on February 6 of this year, is a young Syrian man from Salqin, a city in Idlib Province close to the Turkish border, who carried his dreams with him when he fled from there six years after the start of the Syrian uprising in 2011.

Sirri Witti

When the Syrian regime responded to popular demands in 2011 with bullets and arrests, death besieged Syrians from all sides and young people realized their options had been narrowed as their lives were being threatened at every moment with arrest, torture, and forced conscription. Many of them felt they had to leave the country they loved in order to be able to build their future.

Born in 1996 to a small family consisting of his parents and one sister, Sirri studied at the University of Aleppo’s Faculty of Law for two years until he was forced to stop due to the difficult security and economic conditions in Syria. He decided to leave his homeland and entered neighboring Turkey in 2017, settling in the city of Antakya. the capital of Hatay Province in southern Turkey near the Syrian border.

In addition to being faced with the complex and difficult Syrian refugee situation in Turkey, Sirri struggled to find work and complete his law studies so he entered the Faculty of Economics, Department of Political Science and International Relations at Mardin Artuklu University in Mardin in 2019.

After the earthquake, Sirri remained under the rubble for more than 40 hours. To save his life, doctors decided to amputate his right leg.

Today, more than four months after the earthquake, Sirri graduated from the university.

Syriawise asked Sirri about how he spent his time under the rubble, and whether he lost hope as he was struggling to survive.

“In the first three hours, yes. I could hear people dying under the rubble. It was a special resurrection that I had to live through its bitter moments: a final collective farewell, full of pain and the comfort of death emanating from the shattered cement mixed with people’s flesh and blood,”  he answered, adding that “the whole tape of my life passed in the form of hallucinations: my family, my loved ones, my ambitions, and many deferred dreams.”

Sirri talked about a memory that would not ever be forgotten; the sounds of dying which “will linger in my mind, reminding me of the thousands of victims who were left moaning under the rubble.”

“After ten hours, a young Syrian man managed to free me from the bit of cement that had settled on my body, while the rain and the low temperatures made the situation more difficult. Unfortunately, some people died from the cold,” he said.

Rescuers had suggested that Sirri could be rescued sooner if they amputated his foot, but one of his friends said no.

“After that, my journey included three stops: first the University Hospital in Antakya, then in Mersin, and from there to Istanbul. Meanwhile, my body was losing its resistance, little by little, due to the continuous bleeding in my foot. After arriving in Istanbul, seven doctors decided that the only solution was amputation.”

“I did not want to lose my academic career again as I had after being forced to drop out in Syria”

Sirri Witti

Sirri’s body began to recover gradually, but the shock of the amputation made him live difficult days as if he was in hell. “I almost went crazy; intensive care did not allow anyone to visit me. I was asking to be discharged at any cost because I had lost my ability to have psychological balance.”

Sirri spoke about his insistence that he be able to catch up with his graduation date.

“After I got out of intensive care, my family, relatives, and friends relieved me a lot. I had asked them to pay the installments for the remaining courses I required to graduate. They were surprised by my request but they did what I asked. I did not want to lose my academic career again as I had after being forced to drop out in Syria. And to be more frank, the motive was to expel the nightmare I had lived through with hope. It is a self-defense mechanism,” Sirri told Syriawise.

“My hope in the future is to find a job that will help me to live with dignity, away from looks of pity or dependence on someone else,” he added.

“I will try to establish an organization that will take good care of those injured by war, earthquakes, or any other humanitarian disasters”

Sirri Witti

As for his feelings of success, and his aspirations for the future, Sirri spoke to Syriawise with a tone full of strength and determination and said, “Yes, I was proud of myself. Especially when I saw the happiness in the eyes of my mother and my sister. “

“My current priority is securing a prosthetic limb through a charity or organization because it is too expensive for me to get on my own,” Sirri said, adding “I also want to develop my specialty in political science.”

“And finally, what happened to me, and what I am suffering now, prompted me to think more about hundreds of people in the same situation, and take care of those affected by war. Maybe I was lucky to find someone who listened to me. But others have not found even a good word. Consequently, I will try to establish an organization that will take good care of those injured by war, earthquakes, or any other humanitarian disasters.” Sirri concluded by saying, “It is a dream that I will do all that I can to achieve.”

Alessandro Manzoni
Alessandro Manzoni
Syrian activist/journalist


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