A dream come true

“My name is Aveen, and I come from a village outside Damascus. The Assad regime entered our village; there were many people they wanted and some were my relatives; some of them were killed. We were afraid for our lives and decided to leave. We went by bus from Damascus to Al Qamishli and walked until we crossed the border to Iraq. We arrived in November 2012. We came to Domiz, and there was nothing, no water, no sewage, no facilities, only tents. I live here with my family: my husband and my three children. My husband was working in oil. He joined the Peshmerga army a year ago, to fight Daesh in Iraq.

“My father worked in a nursery and in the fields and he was very happy, so I get this interest in green things from him. In our house in Damascus we had a small garden with olives and vegetables. As I’ve stayed here for a long time, I want to help people to plant things, because it looks like we live in a desert. The other
thing that encouraged me to plant is when I found you walking between the houses asking people if they were interested in planting lemon trees. This seemed like a dream come true! So I caught you and brought you to my small garden. And when you saw my small garden you were excited, it helped me feel confident through this support.

“This project to plant trees, flower and vegetables gives people so much support and encouragement. Before you came here, there were only a few families planting

gardens. But now, with the competition, and the lemon tree gifts, people are thinking: ‘Why don’t I make my garden better? Plant more flowers? Tidy up and enter the competition, make myself proud and make the space around the house much nicer?’ Your work is encouraging many, many families to do greening in and around their homes. Also, many people are asking to be volunteers for the Lemon Tree Trust. If you can get trees, they will plant these in roads, paths and empty spaces.

“Many people are saying they want a nursery to
help create communal and community gardens for households to work together. Vegetables are not as important as flowers in this sense to create something beautiful.

“If I have the chance, I will go back to Syria, back to
my village. But if the situation doesn’t improve, I would prefer to stay here. I don’t want to go to Europe. I will improve things here, wait for the war to end – then I can go back home.”

Aveen, Domiz Camp