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Spotlight | Line by line
December 15, 2021

Two Friends

Giuseppe and Maher have two jovial faces, different but with a common light. One Christian, the other Muslim. Seeing them today, sitting next to each other while they are telling their story, you can imagine them 30 years ago, Maher still a bachelor, in love with each other's country, Italy and Syria. "He came to my wedding, he met my wife even before I married her, I even asked him for his opinion!" Maher laughs as Giuseppe echoes him, "I told him, you are ugly while she is young and beautiful, what are you waiting for? ”, and they laughed some more.

 

They worked together, importing and exporting socks and production machines between Syria and Italy. It was the 90s: "True friendship came with problems - says Giuseppe - there were always some in production"; Maher intervenes, “the two of us were the link between the Italian importer and the Syrian producer, we were in the middle and our job was to solve problems, so we became even closer friends”. Maher was hosted at Giuseppe's home on his visits to Italy, as Giuseppe was on his trips to Damascus. "And he loved my country so much, he told me, when I get old I'll tell my children I'm leaving and I'll get a one way ticket!"; there is pride in Maher's words which Giuseppe confirms, "yes yes, I like everything there, the places, the food, and then the people ... there was so much tolerance, I'm a Catholic, indeed a Catholic fundamentalist - he laughs - and never, never, have I ever had the slightest problem". There is still a lot of Syria in Giuseppe's house immersed in the Brescia countryside: tables, paintings, refined mosaics. "Then it all ended, he was very worried, his house was bombed .... everything was destroyed".

 

 

 

Life stops, Maher talks about the early days and the escape from the country: "At first Damascus was quiet, then the problems arrived there too, right in the suburb where I lived, then I moved to the city center where my family lived. When the center was also involved, I called Giuseppe and told him I had to escape. I loaded my children in the car and left for the border with Jordan. It was also difficult to cross the border, I had to pay under the table. It was tough, even in Jordan, especially at the beginning, Mohamed was only two, Aya was ten .. ".

The two friends never stop talking, Maher also manages to reach Italy and get a visa, but he would have had to leave his family and then ask for reunification which would have taken two years. “How could I leave my wife and children there? In Amman it was too difficult ”.

Maher has sold everything. He is an entrepreneur and he has tried to develop a business in Jordan. However, he is not allowed to create a company with his own name and must by law rely on a Jordanian owner, who will eventually collect the proceeds and determine the loss of the capital of Maher. It has now been 10 years since he left Damascus, and in the last two years he lived with nothing left.

 

 

 

"Luckily, at the right moment the Caritas Humanitarian Corridor arrived, which allowed me to bring my whole family to Italy." And he owes it to Giuseppe, who called the parish priest of Brescia and through him arrived at Caritas, which at that moment was planning the new Corridor from Jordan. “I only made one phone call - Giuseppe minimize - and what prompted me was a particular call, in which Maher told me that Aya loved going to school. But how is it possible - he continues laughing - I have always hated going to school, what is wrong with her?

In reality it was her only opportunity to go out, otherwise Aya did not leave the house because she was afraid "- the ostracism towards Syrian refugees in Jordan was very strong - "That phone call is what moved me that day ".

Now Maher lives with his family 500 meters from Giuseppe's house, and they are thinking of setting up a start-up, as it used to be. We ask Maher if he still believes in returning, one day, to a peaceful Syria: "The situation is too complicated, it will take a long time, who knows maybe one day we will go back down together""Come on! I'm too old!" exclaims Giuseppe, and they burst out laughing looking

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