110-Year-old Syrian refugee loses home but not spirit

CNN
News
Tuesday, January 28, 2014 - 12:45pm

The Syria peace talks in Geneva appear to be deadlocked with very little accomplished.

One Syrian refugee, who's older than just about anyone, describes the heartache and humiliation after leaving his homeland.

Jabaari Alawali has a voice for poetry. It wavers with age but his audience doesn't mind.

CNN: "When is your birthday?"

Jabaari: "I am illiterate but probably I am 110.”

Most elderly relatives are left behind in Syria. But some, like Jabaari, struggle to make the 10 hour walk across the desert border into Jordan.

In Zaatari, vulnerable cases are given wheelchairs and extra care. But since he fled Syria, Jabaari finds it difficult to even stand outside his new home.

Jabaari: "I feel like I am a beggar here in the country, but I lost my country now. I left my home, I left my three houses, I left everything behind."

CNN: "And even if you had three houses here, it wouldn't be like the homes in Syria?"

Jabaari: "Even if I had 100 houses here in the camp, it wouldn't be like home."

Jabaari has little more than the clothes he wears but his memory is rich and he recites for us this poem by renowned poet, Ahmad Showqi.

"Peace from the northern wind that swept across Barada River."

As long as that wind sweeps, tears will be everlasting upon Damascus.

Of disaster and catastrophic events, the pen cannot describe.

"Still glimpsing, its reminiscence upon my heart."

CNN: Before I go I want to say thank you very much, shukran, and I want you to know that no matter what happens, you will have a very rich life."

Jabaari: "It's enough to see you."

As we leave, Jabaari slowly comes outside and we walk together, past a handful of his many grand and great grandchildren, for a special occasion: a photograph, of a proud man far from home.
 

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