Amani Ballour, hospital director under the bombs in Syria

Extract from the documentary

It is the story of a revolution within a revolution. A personal transformation in the din of the Syrian revolt. Amani Ballour, a medical student, was 23 years old in March 2011, when her country, Syria, in turn fell into the “Arab Spring” revolt. La Ghouta, the poor suburb of Damascus where she grew up, immediately joined the protest. The processions demanding the departure of President Bashar Al-Assad are strafed by the security services.

Blood flows. Protesters are crying for help. Amani, who had had to fight to make her parents accept that she should study, then abandoned her specialization in pediatrics. She enlisted in makeshift clinics set up away from government hospitals where the wounded could be arrested. The emergency physician apprentice discovers the dizziness of the struggle, the unspeakable joy of saving lives and the bitter taste of helplessness. As in August 2013, after the sarin bombardment of Ghouta, when the dead numbered in the hundreds, all asphyxiated in their sleep.

Read also “The Cave”: in the Syrian hell, the pediatrician Amani Ballour embodies humanity

With her decision-making spirit and her organizational skills, the young woman stood out. In 2016, at the age of 28, she was appointed by her colleagues, mostly male, to head the health center where she officiates, a basement of a building where five operating rooms have been set up. “My family didn’t want me to take this job, because of local conservatism, she says. I received a lot of criticism, men refused to speak to me when they understood that the director of the hospital was a woman. But all of this made me keep going. “

Relentless pounding

The underground establishment lives in a climate of perpetual crisis. Dropping barrels of explosives from helicopters, one of the Assad regime’s favorite practices, is causing influxes of wounded. The blockade imposed on the rebel suburb generates chronic drug shortages. In addition to managing a team devoured by stress and filling in the breaches caused by the bombardments, Amani must negotiate with the smugglers who have dug tunnels on the edge of Ghouta. This is where the aid sent to it by international organizations, such as Médecins sans frontières, passes through.

Read also In Syria, humanitarian tragedy in Eastern Ghouta

The fight ends in the spring of 2018. With the help of the Russian air force, which subjects the enclave to relentless shelling, the regular army pushes through the lines of the anti-Assad militias. For fear of being arrested, the director and most of her colleagues fled to Idlib, in northwestern Syria, the terminus for the castaways of the revolution. “Two of my doctors refused to leave because they believed in the power’s promises of reconciliation. One is in prison and the other has been killed. “

Today, Amani Ballour lives in Berlin, after passing through Turkey. His humanitarian epic earned him the Raoul Wallenberg Prize from the Council of Europe and was the subject of a documentary, The Cave (“The cave”), directed by his compatriot, Firas Fayyad. She hopes to obtain asylum in Germany, to complete her pediatric studies. But his heart and his thoughts remain attached to Syria. “It’s my duty to keep talking, she says, to draw attention to the sufferings of those who remained there. “

This article is part of a file produced as part of a partnership with the Normandy World Peace Forum which takes place on 1er and October 2 in Caen. To find out more, it’s here.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here