Abdullah isn't the only gardener in these cities under siege, but he's helping with the food shortage.
Aleppo, Syria has become the country’s most dangerous city amidst the tumultuous civil war that has left millions homeless and hundreds of thousands dead.
Though many of the refugees fleeing Syria are from Aleppo and Damascus, another city under constant siege, there are many that still live within the cities for a variety of reasons. Some are too poor to afford to flee, while others refuse to leave their homes and families behind.
One of these people is Abdullah al-Qatmawi, a citizen of Aleppo that runs a small garden on a blasted-out patch of ground that was, at one point, attacked by a bomb dropped by a helicopter, leaving three people dead and his home irreparably damaged.
Ever since the Assad regime cut the main road that connected people to Aleppo’s eastern districts, the people living in the west have been experiencing a severe food shortage. Fortunately, al-Qatmawi began planning two years ago for these hardships and had started his vegetable garden.
After the bomb attacked the patch of ground, he started planting tomatoes, peppers, potatoes, mint and molokhiya, which is similar to okra and native to the Middle East. He says his 250-square-feet of produce is his way of saying he won’t be brought down by the terror.
“My garden is a message to the Assad regime and those who support it,” he told Anadolu Agency. “We will stay in our city even if they bomb it to smithereens; we will resist no matter how long their siege lasts.”
Al-Qatmawi uses the produce to feed his family and then sells the excess to neighbors for an extremely discounted price. As the war rages on, blockades will continue to prevent citizens from getting crucial resources. Al-Qatmawi, one of the few ones who are still alive, isn’t the only one using plants to keep the city positive.
Another gardener, Abu Ward, was running a garden with trees and flowers that he would plant around the city to keep citizens happy and the city bright. One of the people that helped work the garden said that it was so they “don’t only see destruction, but also construction.” Ward himself said weeks before he was killed by a bomb near the garden,
“Those who see flowers enjoy the beauty of the world created by God, and when you smell them they nourish the heart and the soul. The essence of the world is a flower.”
These small patches of life keep the terrified citizens occupied, fed, and full of hope, and as the civil war continues to try to tear them down, these people will cling to their gardens for as long as they can.
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