Saturday, April 01, 2006

The children of Syria

Syrians love families and children (remember?), and their kids are some of the cutest around. Here are some pictures and stories of Syrian kids from different areas of the country.


Schoolchildren in a small village in northwestern Syria, not far from the Dead City of Serjilla.

The school day was just ending as we drove through this village in our hired service on our way from Serjilla to Hama. They were minding their own business until Jeremy leaned out the front window and called "Hello!" in English. Boy, did that get their attention.

The bright blue uniforms are standard issue in Syria. The littlest kids even have small aprons that go over the uniform. Older children and teenagers wear darker blue suits with pink or blue undershirts.

Notice the blue-gray eyes of the boy in the bottom of the frame. Northern Syrians often have striking blue eyes and sometimes, even blondish hair. I've heard from several Syrians that this is a result of European Crusader blood mixing with Syrian blood way back when, but I don't believe it :).


Joseph and Mohammed from the Dead City of Al-Bara.

While we tramped on rich red soil through the olive groves and ruins of Al-Bara, these two young boys happened upon us and accompanied us for the rest of our visit. They had fun showing us an alternate route through the ruins to reach an enclosure of tombs not visible from our original location.


A "bicycle gang" hanging out in the Sha'alan neighborhood of Damascus.

This group of children was having lots of fun riding their bikes around the shopping streets of Sha'alan in central Damascus (notice that there is no supervising adult in sight).

In many ways, Syrian children have idyllic childhoods that no longer exist for American children. They can play outside without being supervised, they don't wear helmets and padding any time they play on something that has wheels, and they're often sent by themselves (at a very young age) to accomplish simple tasks for the family, such as buying lemons at the local fruit stand.


Shabaab-in-training in Sha'alan.

"Shabaab" literally means "youths" in English, but the word conveys so much more than that. A more accurate translation might be "guys" or "dudes." This isn't the greatest picture (especially of the boy in the middle), but what amused me was how these boys are dressed exactly like a lot of young Syrian men, just in miniature. The boy on the left is an especially good example of shabaab fashion. Posted by Picasa

9 comments:

Steliano Ponticos said...
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Steliano Ponticos said...

i think all the blond people are more often from turkish, sirkassian or eastern european origins

Alex said...

Many, but not all ... it is not that simple.

Steliano Ponticos said...

of course alex, often its not an origins thing more than the randomness of genes really

carolyn said...

I'm so glad you posted the picture of Joseph and Mohammed standing on the freshly tilled red soil of the olive orchard, holding the copy of the travel section of the Portland newspaper. It is a sweet memory of two very polite young syrian boys who helped an absent minded American woman find her traveling group after wandering among the remains of roman era buildings amidst the trees.

Anonymous said...

I was equally surprised when I saw kids in the States playing only under watching eyes and even more surprised when I heard that some schools will forbid Tag because it's "unsafe"
Maybe I'm wrong though because I don't have any of mine own

Anonymous said...

I am first generation to be born in the U.S. My parents were born in Syria. My mother has olive skin, dark eyes and hair; my father, light skinned, blue eyes, medium brown hair. Surprisingly, my sisters and I have clear water blue eyes, our paternal cousins don't. All of our children have dark or medium brown hair and hazel or brown eyes. But, each of us has a granddaughter, not grandson with very blue eyes.

manchildandrebuttsavage said...

part of syria was once french mandated. this is where my family is from. we all have blue or hazel eyes.

Anonymous said...

Last pic is at salhi'yeh not shaalan.