Syria was a nation in turmoil in 2012; war had raged for a year and rebels were about to capture Aleppo. Innocent civilians tried to cope with death, destruction and kidnappings as they watched their homeland torn apart.
Muhammed, a well-known Aleppo soap maker, and his family found themselves targeted by the rebels. His only choice was to flee and ensure the safety of his family. They packed the car with what they could and raced to the border.
The family home, business and relatives remain in war-ravaged Aleppo, while Muhammed and his kin are refugees in Turkey. This is Mohammeds story ...
“We were forced to leave Syria due to the Syrian crisis in 2012. We chose Turkey as it was close to Aleppo. At first we thought that this would be a temporary move and that the events back then would last no more than a couple of months and that we would be able to return quickly to our life back in Aleppo.
However, days started accumulating into months and even years. In the beginning, the feeling of alienation did not lay heavily upon us, as we had no plans to reside in Turkey for a long time. Then slowly the reality started sinking in and we started feeling as if we had lost our home and were living in a foreign place far from it.
After a couple of years when the bright image of home seemed more and more distant, we had to accept that we wouldnt be going back anytime soon, and we needed to restart our lives here in our newly adopted homeland. I needed to support my family again and we had to accept that Turkey was our new home. We took the decision to start from scratch and to set up and continue our soap business here. The decision for the business was made easier because of the availability of raw materials and the perfect conditions needed for the manufacturing of Aleppo soap. We started our factory in Turkey in 2014 making Aleppo soap as we had done at home.
It has been a long hard road but we have made it and life has got easier. We have learned a new language, we have learned to adapt to a new culture and we have been accepted into our new country.
I have a deep respect and appreciation for the Turkish people as they have stood by us and have shown us the best treatment during our hard times the same way family members do.
However, I cannot erase my connection to my home - Syria. I cannot express the feeling of being torn from my roots and witnessing my life stolen before my very eyes along with my future dreams and hopes for my family.
I genuinely hope and dream that safety and peace may find their way back to my beloved country someday and my family to be able to continue living within and expanding the roots started by my grandfathers. I never lost hope in returning home someday, and I hold on to this hope until the last breathe of my life.”
Sabun NZ now imports soap from Muhammed in Turkey because of the financial restrictions and the problems in acquiring soap in Syria.