Due to the increase of corruption and injustice the Syrian people have faced by the government led by Bashar al-Assad, Syrians went into the streets in 2011 and peacefully demonstrated, protesting against the government asking for democracy and freedom. But the regime of Assad was not pleased and imprisoned protestors, raped women and children, and used chemical weapons against civilians. Hamza al-Khatib, a 13 year old Syrian boy, was found dead during the protests. He died as result of torture and mutilation while being held captive by the regime. Hamza’s cousin reported on the situation in Syria, saying: “People were killed and wounded, some were arrested. It was chaotic. We didn’t know at that point what had happened to Hamza. He just disappeared.”

After the death of 13 year old Hamza, the Syrian people took up arms and rebelled against the Syrian government. Hamza’s death marked the start of the Syrian Revolution as the protests turned into civil war between the Syrian people and the government. Five years later, the civil war unfortunately has no end in sight. So far, 400,000 Syrians have been killed, five million have fled the country as refugees, and almost seven million people internally displaced. Shockingly, 50,000 children have died, innocent victims of airstrikes, barrel bombs, and sectarian fighting.

Smoke rises over the Saif Al Dawla district of Aleppo, Syria.

The Syrian people in and outside the country play a huge role in the conflict. As Syrians, we should plant the seeds of hope and love with the goal of producing a future that blossoms change and return. Manar has planted words of hope and love in her poems to mask the emptiness in her heart and the absence of home snatched by the darkness of war. Poetry and hope are the only things left to trust and lean on after five years of death and destruction; they shelter you from yesterday’s tragedy and protect you from tomorrow’s insecurity. Poetry and hope unite two strangers, two lovers chased down the perilous road that leads to the blackness/despair of nowhere, two hopeful shadows of what they used to be, opening the door to what lies between.