Photovoltaic panels face the sun on the roofs of elegant 200-year-old Ottoman mansions in Damascus, on the splendid 20th-century apartment complexes on the outskirts of Aleppo, and on humble homes in both cities. .
The world’s oldest city is at the forefront of the fight against climate change, along with Homs, Hama and towns in between. Power shortages in Syria’s darkest days have made Syrian homes the greenest homes on the planet. Syria is rich in resources, but 90% of its population lives in poverty.
Syrians with a decent income must care about the environment. A few paperback-thin Chinese panels are connected to batteries to power the refrigerator, TV and lights in a humble home.
Twelve panels could power a home 24 hours a day, but power plants that were wounded in war and denied fuel and spare parts due to sanctions were no longer powered. A scream goes up every time each household receives a random amount of time from the power grid. “Isha al-Hakoumi”: Government power has emerged. When this happens, the lights dim and the refrigerator rattles.
Before the war, the Syrian pound was 48 to 50 against the dollar. Currently, the dollar is 6,600 to 7,000 yen. For big purchases, you have to hand over banknote bricks. Syrians have to work multiple jobs to support their families. The average monthly salary is equivalent to $18 (17 euros). Farris, a banker, said civil servants, who had a comfortable life before the war and sanctions, were paid the equivalent of $45 a month. He considers himself lucky because he earns $240.
He remains unmarried and lives with his parents. Paul, who supports the six, is a wedding and christening event manager, driver, and volunteer at church charitable events.
Abu Rashid is a Kurdish refugee from the northern Turkish-occupied Afrin district. He is a hotel cleaner and works at his private home on weekends. He is trying to save enough money to renovate his ransacked home in Afrin, if he is allowed to return.
Aleppo’s downtown sidewalks have become markets for shirts, shoes and plastic goods peddled by unemployed men.
Paul argues that refugees should not return. “There are enough Syrians.”
The prewar population of 24 million has shrunk to 18 million.
Issa, who is an “exporter and importer,” says Syria needs workers to rebuild its infrastructure, housing and economy. But Syria cannot rebuild until the sanctions are lifted. He repeats the national slogan, “The situation is worse now than it was during wartime,” although the wartime ended in 2019.
Islamic State (also known as IS) fugitives and landmines have killed scores of desperate Syrians searching for seasonal white truffles in the eastern desert. Many people risk their lives to collect truffles because they sell for $25 a kilo because truffles are less fragrant than European black varieties.
Despite their hardships, Syrians refuse to be overwhelmed by adversity and cannot deny themselves the pleasures. Aleppo’s Amo Hamid fast-food outlets are crowded from noon to midnight with young people who can afford falafel and hamburger sandwiches wrapped in paper. In the sprawling Turkuese restaurant, middle-class customers who can’t afford to eat spend the night drinking water and blowing pipes.
A wealthy, middle-aged bride and groom entered Aleppo’s 4-star Shahba Hotel, where they were greeted by drummers and dancers before heading arm in arm to a lavish reception in the ballroom.
At 7 a.m. in the old city of Damascus, denim-clad workers gather outside the only open stall, drinking a little coffee before work and picking up errands for deliveries to shops near St. Thomas. Pass by on a bicycle loaded with boxes and bags of cheap goods. Gate.