Radio Hakaya is a community radio project started by Brush&Bow in a refugee camp in north Lebanon. Radio Hakaya’s podcasts are with individuals whose communities have been directly affected by the war in Syria and the displacement of Syrians in Lebanon. Each podcast presents a subjective opinion that, combined with the rest of the series, provides a mosaic of differing perspectives and experiences of the reasons people left from Syria, the living conditions in Lebanon and what the future might hold.

Each podcast represents only a fragment of the very complex puzzle of memories and positions Syrian civilians hold on the uprisings and the war that is tearing apart Syria, and should therefore be heard in relation to the contents expressed in the other podcasts.

Um Saleh – Life Under ISIS

This podcast is an interview with Um Saleh, a Syrian woman from Deir Ezzor. Deir Ezzor is the largest city in Eastern Syria. Sitting on the shores of the Euphrates, close to the Iraqi border, it is a region known to be rich in oil. Um Saleh witnessed her city falling under the rule of ISIS in 2014, before attempting to flee to Kurdish held areas. Turned away on multiple occasions, she had no other choice but to flee with her family to Lebanon. In this interview, Um Saleh gives testimony to life under the self-proclaimed Islamic State, to the dangers of escaping their rule, and to the impossibility of return to her home.

#2 Abu Mohammed: From Revolution to War

This is the second podcast of an 8-part series. It is an interview with Abu Mohammed, a former policeman from the city of Homs, in Syria. Abu Mohammed fled to Lebanon with his family early on in the conflict, to avoid being involved with the regime’s repression after having witnessed its brutality. In this interview, taken in a refugee camp on the Lebanese-Syrian border, Abu Mohammed shares some general reflections on the impact of the war on the Syrian people, and of the responsibilities the regime holds at the roots of the conflict.

#3 Tony Abood: Mayor of Minyara

Thi’s podcast is an interview with Tony Abood, the Mayor of Minyara. Minyara is a Christian village in Akkar, the northern most province of Lebanon and one of the poorest regions of the country. It is here, along with the Beqaa valley, that the majority of Syrians in Lebanon have found refuge, fleeing the 7-year civil war across the border. In this interview, Abbod tells us about his memories of the Lebanese civil war, and about the complex history that has turned Syrians from occupiers to refugees in Lebanon.

#4 Rayan: Women in War

This podcast is an interview with Rayan, a Syrian widow living with her two children in a tent by the Syrian border in Lebanon. Rayan is an example of the resilience shown by women who have learnt to navigate a patriarchal society in the context of war. In this podcast, she speaks about her experience of the transition between the early uprisings in Syria and the unfolding civil war. She reflects on the last 5 years she has spent in Lebanon, and the difficulties of living as a young widow with two small children in such a hostile environment.

#5 Majdi: A Palestinian Perspective

This podcast is an interview with Majdi, a Palestinian refugee living in Lebanon’s refugee camp Shatila. The camp was established by the ICRC in 1949 to accommodate the thousands of refugees who came from Palestine after the creation of Israel in 1948. Located on one square km of land, and originally built for 3,000, the camp today struggles with overcrowding as the influx of Syrian refugees into Lebanon continues. The current camp population is estimated to be around 22,000. Born and raised in Lebanon, Majdi has never been able to return to his homeland in Palestine. In this interview, he speaks about the situation of Palestinians in Lebanon, how the residents of Shatila have managed the arrival of Syrian refugees and his reflections on the difference between the meaning of return for Palestinians and Syrians.

#6 Hussein: Beyond Sectarianism

This is the sixth podcast of an 8-part series. It is an interview with Hussein, a young Lebanese man from Jabal Mohsen. The neighbourhood of Jabal Mohsen is home to the Alawi minority of Tripoli, a city traditionally known as the heartland of Sunni Muslims in Lebanon. Since the years of the Lebanese civil war (1975-1990), armed conflicts have sporadically occurred between Jabal Mohsen and its Sunni neighbours in Beb Al-Tebbeneh and Qobbe. All of these
neighbourhoods are located in the poorest areas of Tripoli and have been subject to bad governance by local militias and government officials alike. At the start of the war in Syria, conflict re-erupted between the people of Jabal Mohsen and Beb al-Tebbeneh, reflecting the sectarian divides in Syria’s civil war. Enrolled as a fighter at 17, Hussein took part in the Tripoli clashes before joining a militia fighting in Syria on the side of the Syrian regime.

#7 Labeeba: The Female Shawisha

This podcast is an interview with a female Shawisha named Labeeba. The word Shawish – a masculine word in Arabic- was traditionally used to refer to men who managed migrant labor in Lebanon. However, since the start of the Syrian war and influx of Syrian refugees in Lebanon, the word is now used to refer to the person nominated to act as a leader for each camp. Most Shawish are men and often rule the camp to their own advantage, taking a cut of peoples rent, syphoning off aid and controlling where people work. However, just off the main highway that runs from Tripoli to Tartous is a camp run by a woman. In this podcast, Labeeba tells us what it is like to be a woman leader of the camp.

#8 Randa: Exploitation in Lebanon

This podcast is an interview with Randa, a woman from Raqqa, now living in Lebanon’s Bekka Valley. Randa tells the story of how she was smuggled out of Syria, and of the hardships of crossing the border illegally. In this interview she denounces the oppressive system of work many refugees are forced into, whilst referring to the widespread corruption that not even international organizations can escape.

All names have been changed to protect the anonymity of participants. The views and opinions published on these podcasts are the participants alone and do not reflect the opinions of Brush&Bow.

All recordings are taken, translated and edited with the help from members of the local community, some of which are integral collaborators of Radio Hakaya’s editorial team.

Editorial Team:

Interviews and Editing: David L. Suber & Roshan De Stone

Sound Editing: Yoseph F. & Banan Abdelrahman

Illustrations: Hannah Kirmes-Daly

Translation: Fadi Haddad & Bassel A.W

English Voices: Yara Asmar & Mike Ayvazian