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‹ Mn Huna: Finding Refuge in Friendship

Episode 5: Nightmares Become Dreams, Part 2

March 12, 2017

Episode five of Mn Huna: Finding Refuge in Friendship begins where episode 4 ended: Houda’s father is in prison after being arrested in the street outside Houda’s home while her mother and sisters watched.

Recently, a family friend was able to visit Houda’s neighborhood in Aleppo. They shot the video below.

The video shows the street that Houda lived on. The end focuses on Houda’s family’s balcony—the balcony Houda and her sisters and cousins played on. The balcony her mother filled with well-loved flowers and plants. The balcony her mom and sisters were on when they watched Houda’s father being arrested. The audio is a ghost. The sound of a healthy city, not the current sounds of the street in Aleppo. The images are less than a week old.

Houssam was arrested in 2011, very early in the unrest in Syria. At that point, in Aleppo, the protests were simply that—protests. There was little violence. And he was fortunate to be arrested by the local police, not by the security forces. He was beaten and bruised. He was hit on the head and bloodied. He saw others who were badly wounded and thrown in the same prison with no medical treatment. He describes his cell as, “a place you wouldn’t keep an animal.” But still, he counts himself as fortunate.

Recently, Amnesty International has begun to release reports on some of the Syrian prisons and the atrocities that have been committed within them during the war. It is not an easy story to read.

Fortunately, Houssam’s story of imprisonment has a much happier ending.

هدى/Houda: من هنا : لعل الكابوس يتحول الى حلم جميل

Melanie/ميلاني: From here, we hope our nightmares become dreams.

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Transcript & Translation

(Translation Coming Soon)

Melanie: Hi, I’m Melanie

Houda: Hi, I’m Houda

Melanie: And you are listening to

Houda: Mn Huna

Melanie: Finding Refuge in Friendship.

Houda: Isme, Houda.

Melanie: Isme, Melanie.

In our previous episode, we talked about when Houda’s Father was arrested in Aleppo in 2011. This was during the time when the protests had started to really take off in Aleppo and people were being arrested and disappearing. Houda was 14 years old when her Mother and her sisters and she watched her Father be arrested in the street outside their apartment building.

If you want to listen to our previous episode or any of our previous episodes, you can go to and look under the mini-programs for Mn Huna.

So Houda, when your Dad was arrested, your Mom and your sisters, you said, were screaming and had a really immediate reaction. Your response was different. What was your reaction to your Father’s arrest?

Houda: I was overwhelmed. I went to my bedroom and I broke whatever comes in front of my eyes and my older sister came to calm me and I pushed her away because I thought I would never see my Father again.

Melanie: Had your Father ever been away before?

Houda: We were used to him staying always around with us.

Melanie: So your Father had never been away from your family overnight before, and Houssam is a real family man. He clearly adores his daughters and his wife and it’s a really close-knit family so this was a huge shift in their life.

Houda: After my Dad did arrested my Mom went to police station and spoke with the officer, but the officer said “I can’t help you.”

Melanie: And so your Mom went to the police station but she couldn’t do anything. What did she do when she came back home?

Houda: She say to us “I saw your Father and he will come tomorrow, to, he will back to house.”

Melanie: So your Mom came home and she told you and your sisters your Dad will be home tomorrow and she had seen him but really, in Syria, and in these prisons, could she see him?

Houda: In prison, in Syria, nobody can see him. This place is very difficult to visit prisoner.

Melanie: So after your Mom wasn’t able to, at the police station, make any progress; what did she do next?

Houda: She spoke with the lawyer to help my Dad but she could not do anything.

Melanie: In this time you weren’t able to talk to your Dad and how long was he in prison?

Houda: Five days.

Melanie: And what was going on in his life in these five days?

Houda: He was feeling on Friday was last day he saw us.

Melanie: So your Father also thought he would never see you again. How did your Father get out of prison?

Houda: He was lucky. His case returned to court and he spoke with the judge. The judge was a kind man and he acted fairly and he released him. My Mom went the court with my grandmother and lawyer. So when they back with my Dad, my grandmother called my younger sister, she said “I have surprise to you!” Her voice was like music voice, expresses joy and I and my sister already know my Dad back with them.

Melanie: Ahh, so your grandmother gave it away by being so happy on the phone. Nice.

Houda: This was greatest feeling in my life. And we again saw that’s not lost hope for return again for return to a beautiful life. And we know if you don’t do anything to hurt other people nothing in the world can hurt you.

Houda: من هنا : لعل الكابوس يتحول الى حلم جميل

Melanie: From here, we hope our nightmares become dreams.

Episode 5: Nightmares Become Dreams, Part 2
Houda and her dad, Houssam, on the porch at KXCI. Photo by Kathleen Dreier Photography.


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