Interview for

Ghada S.

8/13/2020

Interviewed By:

Chesley Chan

Date Interviewed:

Audio Recording of Interview
00:00 / 1:32:51
Summary

A refugee from Syria, Ghada describes leaving the country for her husband’s healthcare and her unique role as a woman due to her husband’s blindness. Her travels took her to Lebanon, Jordan, and eventually to the United States, where Ghada describes having felt a sense of freedom and home. She also describes her complicated relationship with faith.

Transcript
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Additional Notes
Outline

Narrator: Ghada S.

Date: 08/13/2020

Location: Dallas, Texas


Summary: A refugee from Syria, Ghada describes leaving the country for her husband’s healthcare and her unique role as a woman due to her husband’s blindness. Her travels took her to Lebanon, Jordan, and eventually to the United States, where Ghada describes having felt a sense of freedom and home. She also describes her complicated relationship with faith.

Topics: family, illness, conflict, familial stability, fear of violence, strength, religion, fear to practice religion, role of women, healthcare, danger with authorities, resettlement, spirituality, access to resources, strength, concealment, cultural differences, home, faith, boundaries between culture and upbringing, tolerance, pandemic, respectful protest


Outline

Section 1: (02:18 - 09:07)

  • Family - Explains life timeline and how she built her family and life

  • Inherited strength - She was the first child in her family; she felt very loved and supported in her life and especially by her family, which is where she found strength

Section 2: (10:16 - 15:11)

  • Fear of violence - Their house wasn’t directly impacted but their neighborhood and surrounding community experienced frequent threats of bombs.

  • Education - Her son struggled with the violence and began to associate the danger with his education, which created a negative experience around school.

  • Strength - Working through constant violence and turmoil because of civil war was really difficult, especially from a parenting standpoint. Ghada couldn’t describe it beyond the word “difficult.”

  • Vulnerability - Putting on a good face for her children was a big part of how she dealt with the proceedings. Balancing the reality with hope was important, especially to the way she shared what was happening with her kids.

Section 3: (15:15 - 25:51)

  • Religion - Ghada is Muslim, but not a conservative believer. Much of the demonstrations started from mosques or religious places in Syria, so she felt scared to practice her religion and be in those spaces.

  • Sexism in religious practice - The routines of private practice largely stayed the same, even in the face of conflict; however, women were largely excluded from public practice of religion anyway, so there was not a marked difference in experience or belief.

  • Disillusionment - When faced with her husband’s contraction of blindness, Ghada did not rely much on religion, instead thinking very little about it.

  • Reconnection - Reflection has led to more connections between religion and hope for the future, which has been a great lens with which to consider her and her husband’s experiences.

Section 4: (25:53 - 44:55)

  • Healthcare access - Ghada’s journey out of Syria was motivated by her husband’s need for support and healthcare as a result of his developing blindness. They traveled to Lebanon, when her husband was arrested and taken away, and so Ghada had to return home with her children alone.

  • Instability - Ghada was struggling to deal with the danger of missiles, on top of her husband’s imprisonment, so she decided to leave with her family.

  • Unexpected travel - The plans to find healthcare in Lebanon fell through, so the family embarked on a three year journey of finding housing while also making progress towards the United States.

  • Emotions - There were mixed feelings between Ghada and her husband, particularly at the moment when they were traveling to America. Ghada felt a sense of freedom, while her husband still felt weighed down with the sadness of what was lost.

  • Gender roles - During Ghada’s time in Jordan, she had to take on the roles of both woman and man in her household, particularly as a result of her husband’s blindness.

  • Cultural differences - In Jordan, she experienced a different culture, although still a Muslim and Arabic-speaking one. Additionally, she struggles to help her children see the two cultures they are living between, especially with her own experience in mind.

Section 5: (44:58 - 56:22)

  • Posterity - Ghada focused less on imposing advice or things like tradition, values, and morals, but instead on sharing stories from her own life and about their family. She seeks to teach in an indirect way.

  • Finding community - Jordan’s culture made finding a community rather difficult, Ghada spent most time working to take care of her family and just didn’t have the same sort of access to community activities, unlike the United States.

Section 6: (56:25 - 1:07:22)

  • Home - Ghada would love to say that her childhood home and her family when she grew up is her home, but she actually feels that America is her home. That being said, she made the distinction that no particular state within the country feels right, just the US as a whole.

  • Love - Feeling supported and loved by her family is what defines home for her, even when she is giving the love, for example, to her children.

  • Relationship with God - Even though Ghada felt like she wasn’t paying a lot of attention to God during the difficulties with her husband and more, she clarified that this was because she felt so connected with God.

  • Meaning of faith - Everything happens for a reason, so one should accept that He knows what is best for them and be patiently obedient.

  • Spiritual presence - Ghada’s second baby was still born in Syria and survived severe sickness after birth, which she attributes to God’s presence.

Section 7: (1:08:17 - 1:21:07)

  • Sharing stories - Ghada works hard to inspire care for the stories of her life and her family’s experiences in her children; she doesn’t control them a lot but she does draw certain boundaries about anything to which it is important for them to pay attention.

  • Sharing culture - Ghada is not strict about which content (music, media, etc) to which her children listen, but she sets an example for her own culture in her behavior. Ghada hopes most that her faith will translate into her children’s lives throughout the future.

Section 8: (1:21:06 - 1:24:05)

  • BLM protests - Ghada was not opposed to the protests but did experience some difficulty in the way she perceived the riots. She felt scared because riots with looting were also part of Syria’s descent into war, and the US doesn’t experience poverty on the same level.