“Everyone living in Syria now, please note, we must find Volha Nikalayeuna Fyodarava from Belarus. She left Aleppo eight years ago, leaving behind children with her husband. The husband died, the boys were left alone. Maybe someone knows her?”
Half a year ago, volunteers all over the world began to search for Vitsebsk dweller Volha Fyodarava. Her Syrian husband was killed in a mine blast while driving his car. The two children, Zakaria and Klim Alytu, were left alone in Aleppo, in the hell of a civil war.
Euroradio has tracked down the boys’ mother and grandmother and found out what happened to Zakaria and Klim.
Husband tricked children into going to Syria
Volha Fyodarava married a Syrian citizen in the early 2000s. First, the young couple lived in Vitsebsk, where they had two children.
“The children are Belarusians, they were born in Vitsebsk,” Alena, Volha’s mother, told Euroradio. “They are registered in the city, they went to kindergarten here”.
Zakaria even managed to finish the first year of the Vitsebsk school. But in 2008, the couple with their children moved to Volha’s husband’s home in the Syrian city of Aleppo. The family soon fell apart. According to Syrian traditions, a man can have several wives and visit them one by one. Volha did not agree to this kind of life. She left Syria with her children.
A few months later my husband came to Vitsebsk to visit his family and tricked his sons into going to Aleppo. Volha was working in Moscow at the time.
“Write that we are fine”
For eight years, Volha knew almost nothing about her children. The woman was depressed: she went to Moscow and broke off contacts with relatives.
When Volha’s husband died, Zakaria and Klim remained with his Syrian wife. The boys had a bad life — they were sent to work at the construction site. They managed to escape and returned to Belarus with the help of volunteers.
Their mother knew nothing about this, Volha was still working in the Russian capital. She learned that her sons were in Vitsebsk from the volunteers who were looking for her in Russia.
Volha’s mother says that it is hard for her daughter to talk about her experiences.
“We don’t want to recall anything,” she says. “Write that we are fine, everything is normal. There were so many nuances … We have already gone through what is needed and what is not. They brought the children to us… Everything is fine. We needn’t go back to the past. “
Registration instead of summer camp
Volha returned to Vitsebsk immediately after she learned that her children were there. Zakaria and Klim were slowly gettingused to life in Belarus. After returning from the country at war, the boys needed help in adaptation.
“We contacted the education department asking where we should turn to, where to start the adaptation. I know that some Syrian children come to Belarus. There are summer camps. I thought maybe our boys could go there, too… In response, there was silence, nobody picked up the phones,” Zakaria and Klima’s grandmother recalls. And as a result, we were subject to checks of utility bills and other things. We were simply notified of registration with relevant authority. But on what basis? Nobody explained it to us. Thank God, we were removed from this file.”
Zakaria and Klim have been living in Vitsebsk for over six months. Their grandmother and mother are teaching the children how to read and write at home. In rearing children, they rely only on themselves.
The adaptation period of Zakaria and Klima is not all smooth. Their mother and grandmother explain to the children how to behave in the Belarusian society. According to Alena, none of the officials or teachers helped in the adaptation of children.
Appeals to local authorities brought the family only trouble.
“There were claims that our children do not study at school. But how can they study when the Russian language has been completely forgotten in the last ten years? Are we to blame for the fact that we don’t have an Arabic teacher?” Alena continues. “Adaptation is not easy. But they are our children, we know their habits. We taught them: what was possible in Syria, is inappropriate here. We explain it to them.When we asked for help, we were told that they would come and help. As a result, the case was sent to the education department of Pervshamayski district, and then to the school. And we started having problems with teachers.”
Family not found
The local education department of Vitsebsk knows nothing about two Syrian boys who do not go to school… The chief expert on the protection of the rights of minors, Iryna Hayevaya told Euroradio that no family has turned to the department with the following questions:
“I looked up the journals of appeals from 2018, we didn’t have such people. I can’t help,” the official said. “We don’t know this family. There were no appeals. I can’t comment on anything else.”
Just in case, we called other departments of education in Vitsebsk. They did not hear about Volha Fyodarava and her children, either.
The situation is strange, but Zakaria and Klim are no better off because of that. The children who are strangers among their own still need help in adaptation. But the help is not coming, and the boys’ relatives decided to rely only on themselves.