Syria: Eva’s daily race against darkness

Amy Rodriguez25 June 2021

At her desk in Pro Terra Sancta offices in Damascus, our clerck Eva is furiously typing on the keyboard of her laptop. She’s running a marathon against time: soon the battery will be dead but this mail has to be sent. 

For Eva, our staff and the entire syrian population it’s important to let the world know what is happening, in what condition they are living because of a never before seen energy crisis. 

Thanks to the sanctions, there is no electricity, there is no light. Everybody’s life has turned upside down: “the 80% of the population renounced everything in order to survive”, writes Eva. 

It’s not all about the light emergency: water and gas are missing as well 

The light missing and not being able to use electronics, brings with it many other huge problems: “the most important thing we are missing, because of the lack of electricity, is the water”, says Eva. She explains that she has to stay awake every night in order to keep the pump bringing water home running. 

Sometimes she has to wait two hours before seeing the first drop of water, and if it arrives, she already knows it will be poured in the bathtub where, one after the other, the family members will wash themselves, for daily hygiene and to wash by hand clothes. Sometimes, though, the water doesn’t come for 4 days straight.  

Eating habits drastically changed: gas is a rare and expensive commodity and they have to wait for electricity to turn up induction stoves and the kettle. 

You need an entire day to cook a simple traditional meal”, writes Eva, “and you have to eat it quickly as we cannot turn on the fridge. Now mine has become a cupboard”. 

Loneliness and depression: the collateral effects of darkness 

Then, there is the darkness. Very few people can afford to buy a small battery to light up a room. The physical and psychological effects of light lackness are starting to show off in all their negativity. 

My old mommy had to start taking antidepressants”, Eva confesses, “she cannot move easily and she spends a lot of time alone at home. Now she doesn’t even have the company of TV and the radio. Many people, especially housewives, are suffering from the same situation”. 

Eva’s daughter is a teenager and, as school closed early this year, she’s passing her time reading and painting. Because of darkness, though, her sight became very weak

All of her paintings are in black and white. There are no more colours in the life of this young lady

Working with no electricity 

The most frustrating part of Eva’s new daily routine is her job. From 7 am, when she starts working, Eva has half an hour to charge her phone and laptop. Then, until 12, there is no electricity. 

Printing, copying and sending emails are activities that have to be done in only 2 hours. From 2 to 6 pm it’s not possible to work at all. 

Friars are not able to buy fuel for the power generator of the Convent and the office. You can only use the public electricity. This means that Eva and her colleagues have to stay in the office after 7 pm and on the weekends.

A run against time 

We are living a chaotic life. We are losing courage, joy and future. Every thought goes to when we will have water, we will be able to heat up food, recharge the batteries, maybe, just maybe, use the washing machine”. 

To cook and wash her clothes. Eva only wants to be able to do the chores that many of us hate doing. 

“My laptop’s battery is almost dead, I have to go”, writes Eva. Her mail could be signed “Syria”: an entire population has a low battery and is now in the darkness. 
You would only need to turn on a switch. Just turn on a light in Syria.