I am glad to be part of the Hands Up Foundation and to write as their blogger. In my first post, I will introduce myself to you.
My name is Oula Kaskin. I am from a neighborhood called al-Midan in Damascus, Syria. This area is famous for the Jazmatiyeh Market, with its magical colorful decorations at night. Here you can buy all kinds of old Damascan sweets and food. Imagine desserts with cream, kunafa, and maamoul, and delicious plates of falafel, shawarma, kibbeh, and hummus fatteh! The old part of al-Midan is alive with many narrow lanes, and the houses are surrounded by beautiful plants such as jasmine, Damask rose, lemon, and bitter orange.
© Oula Kaskin: My neighborhood and Jazmatiyeh Market
I am 28 years old and I am from a small family. My father died when I was five years old. I have one sister and one brother. My mother stayed with us, learned to sew, and she is still working today, sewing evening dresses. My brother is also in Damascus. He is married with one daughter. My sister and her husband emigrated to Berlin in 2015. They have one son.
My journey to Lebanon began in 2011 when the war began. I had finished high school and registered at the Lebanese University in Damascus. Sadly this has now been closed due to the war. Because of this, every six months I had to go to Lebanon for exams. After that, I studied media at the Syrian Virtual University. I moved to Lebanon permanently in December 2018 in search of better job opportunities. I worked as an Arabic language teacher in SB Overseas, an organization for the education of Syrian children, and I registered for a masters degree in Islamic studies.
I spend my time in Lebanon studying, volunteering, doing freelance photography, and attending workshops and other events. After the spread of COVID-19 and the curfew, I have continued my volunteer activities online with a relief organization, a children’s channel, and a website for college students.
In spite of the difficulties of life in Lebanon, the lack of job opportunities, and the high cost of living, I still love life here. I love the beautiful nature, the weather, and the friendly people. It is a vibrant society because it is diverse, made up of multiple cultures, and there is a large number of foreigners. I feel that Lebanon is an open country to the world. I hope that Lebanon can become safe again and economically stable.
My goals for the upcoming years are to develop myself in the TV industry as a reporter to cover humanitarian issues, including those of Syrian refugees, and women in the Middle East. I am interested in writing for Hands Up because it will allow me to report on Syrian affairs and to share the personal stories of the Syrian people.