South of Antakya, Turkey, the country is hosting thousands of refugees from Syria. Some locals are creating businesses to cater to the Syrians.
OUT OF SYRIA
Turkey is not like Libya: in Antakya, at least for the first few days, you are on your own: there is no media centre giving info and press passes to the journalists, then selling tickets for the war, same as in Syria there is no equivalent to Benghazi, a safe haven to take shelter from subduing storms.
Hence, driven by despair, we got the information by stopping people in the street, and asking them where are the thousands of refugees that Turkey hosts, and the names of villages and camps started to pop out: Yaydalagi, the Boshin camp, Altiniozu. The Apaydin camp, however, seemed especially off limits: we found out later that it's actually the main headquarters of the Free Syrian Army in the region.
In the refugee camp, 20 km south of Antakya near the Syrian border, people came from all over to drag us by the wrist to their tents, everybody wanted to give their names:
Fahere Zerzore, an 86 year old woman with the attitude of a leader in her eyes, made gestures with her arms to tell a story: she lifted them in front of her belly, then closed up a circle, as if to indicate a pregnant woman. Then she lifted her arm, and vigorously dropped a virtually armed fist to rip her body.
Abdalha Hemad, Jesser Al Shkor, Abid Al Hay, from Idlib, "Idlib, boum boum last week". Ahmed Khedro, Khaled Kassouma, Yousef Sara, from Latakia, "Suria"; the children showing us a drawing of Bashar Al Assad with donkey ears, then yelling : "Bashar, gaash!" Invited to yell "gaash" after they called out Bashar, we assumed that probably means donkey. All of them had lost somebody in the shelling, they wanted us to photograph the dead white faces on their mobiles.
Khaled's children were joined by a gang of little orphans, who, shockingly, had crossed the border on their own.
In spite of poverty, and the very conditions in the camp were still decorous and clean. They were the ones who offered us the tea. We had permission to stay for the afternoon, but the young ones wanted us to come back on friday, because, we understood from hand gestures, the guards would be off for prayers.
Needless to say, with the recent deepening of the crisis, help is urgently needed to maintain and expand the structure.