Syrian refugees have sought asylum in Nottingham via the Vulnerable Persons Resettlement scheme
This is the honey man
Merchants from across the globe would come and stay here to sell, buy or make honey. Tradition instructed the merchants to leave a honey jar by one of the streams. Sometimes the jars would break and mix with the springs, making the water sweet. This then created a kind of tourism, with people visiting to drink the special sweet water.
Since a peaceful protest for democratic reform turned into Civil War, Syria has been decimated. According to Shelterbox.org, one in four schools have been damaged, half of the hospitals no longer function, and millions of hectares of farmland have been destroyed, forcing half of the population to flee their homes. Some have arrived in Nottingham via the Vulnerable Persons Resettlement scheme (VPRS). Others through sheer will and determination.
We spoke to some of these people to put a face to the statistics, to remember ordinary people doing ordinary jobs and living an ordinary life were forced to leave their home. This is one of their stories. This is the honey man.
My name is Zihed and I lived on the outskirts of Aleppo. What can I say, it was a perfect life. Aleppo was considered the economic capital of Syria. There were lots of businesses and industry. People could work more than one job if they needed to. It was known as the Old City because you felt yourself in a different planet when you were there. In 2006 it was named Islamic Capital of Culture because of the history and architecture. Now most of this has been destroyed by the war.
Comic art panel from What is Coming
I was a carpenter, a specialist in woodwork. We lived on the outskirts of Aleppo, so we knew our neighbours very well. It was a rural community with plenty of farms. People from the city centre would visit to enjoy the nature. The translation of my area was ‘the Honey Place’.
The Honey Place is a very special historical area. Merchants from across the globe would come and stay here to sell, buy or make honey. Tradition instructed the merchants to leave a honey jar by one of the streams. Sometimes the jars would break and mix with the springs, making the water sweet. This then created a kind of tourism, with people visiting to drink the special sweet water.
I came to Nottingham with my wife and three children. I am very lucky because my brother and his four children are here too. We look out for each other and so friends are not as important at the moment. I have a spoonful of honey each morning, which was a routine at home. My dream is to one day return back home to Aleppo.
Zihed spoke to James Walker on 29 April 2018 in Beeston, Nottingham. Maamon acted as translator.
Share this feature: Tweet