The Other Side

20th October

BBC News headline: A 21-year-old student at the University of Nottingham is tortured to death by a female fundamentalist for a dress code violation.

13th November

I GOT INTO UCL!!! A conditional offer of AAB and the hope of living in London. Mum is as ecstatic as I am, especially as I am the first one in my family who has been given the opportunity to go to uni. My sisters are fighting over who will take my room once I leave. Dad is happy for me but keeps reminding me that this should be more motivational than celebratory. He’s also a bit nervous about me living in the capital with all the attacks going on at the moment but i keep reminding him that London is a big place. Statistically it is HIGHLY unlikely for me to encounter anything, considering theres like 6 million people living there.

3rd January

BBC News headline: A terrorist on a motorcycle blew himself up in Guildford, Surrey, killing four people. Hours later, a suicide bomber blew himself up in the outskirts of Woking, killing two people and wounding several others. 

syria 3

7th February

BBC News headline: A teen is beheaded for apostasy after missing Friday prayers. Sunni militants machine-gun a his family in his home.

8th February

A girl from my school had her three cousins, uncle and aunty die in their house yesterday. In their home! The school had a special assembly about it and spoke about how we should behave in situations of terror, as though there is a particular way to behave. But we all felt so bad for her. Apparently she had visited them in Oxford only a week ago. It is scary how lives can be taken in such a nonchalant manner. Whole lives. These people had likes and dislikes, aspirations, dreams, talents; and that all went with a bullet.

10th June

My disorganisation is atrocious. My exams are about to end soon so I am looking for summer jobs. I should have started earlier really because my CV isn’t the greatest. Mum and Dad say that I should just focus on finishing my A Levels and then I can think about getting some extra money but I feel bad because my loan will not cover all of my uni expenses. It’s been hard since Dad lost his job due to budget cuts at the council (especially as this happened after I had applied for my student loan, so it’s been difficult getting a new application in with our current financial situation). If I can just save enough to pay for my groceries for a few months then I know that will be a load off of them. It’s a lot of pressure being the first one off to uni but I am also excited and nervous. Being able to meet people from all over the country- no- all over the world on one small campus. I think I will learn a German properly alongside my degree. Or to get that Erasmus funding to do a German exchange and make sure my GCSE wasn’t a complete waste of time. But as for now, it’s just revision, revision, revision.

2nd July

Dad got a new job working in a cement factory and today was his first day. I know deep down that he really did not want to take it. He is definitely over qualified for a job like that, and he has never done such manual labour before in all his life. But the bills are piling up and we have had our first threat of an eviction from home.

4th August

BBC News headline: 175 executed of the 300 kidnapped cement workers outside of Bradford, according to the state’s military. Video shows fundamentalists beheading a man with a necklace bomb.

5th August

I cant eat, I cant drink, I cant think. All I can hear is my heart beat, all I can feel is the pump anxiety into my body to the point where I feel I my burst. And yet tears wont come. The only thing my mind can comprehend is one question: “Where is my Dad?”

18th August

Dad is still not home. My heart aches at the possibility that he may never come back to us alive but Mum prays constantly but eats rarely. There is little food in the house and I am sick to death of beans and having to pick the mouldy bits off of bread. I wish there was something I could do. I wish I could help my Mum & sister’s pain in some way but my own to too great a burden to bare. I would have gotten my A Level results today but apparently not all of the papers have been marked and many have been lost. My dreams are crumbling at the same pace as theorists and gossips stating what they’ve heard and who they’ve seen. Who’s alive and who’s dead. Who’s a spy amongst us and what country is best to travel to for safety before we are just another forgotten statistic of dead bodies.

25th August

Dad literally just walked through the from door this evening and sat down on the sofa. We all stared at him in utter disbelief while Mum came through the door with dinner and dropped it, the bolognese sauce staining the carpet quicker than we could catch our breaths. Mum ran to him, my sister cried, I could not move. Our prayers had been answered. He was home- no, better- he was alive! But as Mum began her abundant lists of questions and embraces my Dad just sat there, staring with eyes which were not his. Eyes which did not focus on any object or movement. That is when I realised that the person was home, but the being wasn’t.


1st September

BBC News: Militants attacked the neighbourhoods of Edgbaston and Highgate in Birmingham, killing dozens of people in execution style murder. Fatality estimates variates between 135 and over 300. International sources reported that the attack was against Army personal and killed 85 soldiers along with 50 civilians while sources said over 300 people were killed, most of whom were children and women. 

7th September

Mum woke us up in the middle of the night and told us to pack a bag. My leavers hoody, violin, tooth brush, baby album- wait, no, the violin is too much-, my favourite Jacqueline Wilson book, underwear… My mind was racing. What do you pack when you have to move like this? My life is in this room…

But when we got to the dock there were hundreds, if not thousands of people. The last time I had seen that many people would have been at the Reading festival last year. People were arguing and pushing in the darkness to secure there space on this boat and we aren’t even sure where it’s heading. We got on but we had to leave all our luggage behind because there simply want enough room. Everything I have is gone.


(All events which appear in this post have happened in Syria within the last 12 months)

By Priscilla McGregor-Kerr   @cillahope_

The Move

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