I have interviewed Syrians living in the toughest conditions. They are barely able to feed their children, to keep warm. They don't envisage a bright future but, believe me when I say they are the kindest, most human, human beings you could hope to meet. They will still welcome us into their homes, offer coffee and conversation. They laugh and joke, they embrace us as human beings even if, after we leave, the smiles are replaced by worry.
In Syria, families are still families. They would sacrifice everything for the wellbeing of their loved ones. In all these conversations, nobody mentioned Coronavirus. Why? Because they have bigger problems to deal with, because their media has not created the levels of fear and hysteria we see in the West, because they have a President who saw, early on, that lockdown would do greater damage than the virus. Because they have survived all the horror of war, economic savagery and life-threatening propaganda. They don't give power to the virus because they know, what keeps them safe is their love, for each other, for their country, their homeland.
This is what I believe we have forgotten in the West. We fear death so much, we have abandoned what it means to be alive.
Vanessa is an independent journalist with a passion for peace, progress and Syria.
"A fine reporter, who was one of the finalists in the 2017 Martha Gellhorn Prize for Journalism, perhaps the most distinguished award for truly independent journalism in Britain." - John Pilger
Photo by Mohammad Helal