Abdulmouin’s green lockdown

A Diary of a child in Syria during COVID-19 movement restrictions

Lina Alqassab
an adolescent guy having tea in a balcony garden
©UNICEF/Syria/2020/Aldroubi
25 May 2020

Syria, Homs, 14 May 2020 - “I love all the plants I grow equally. If a plant is not loved, it never sprouts,” says Abdulmouin, 16, surrounded by the greenery on the balcony of his house in Homs, Syria. Abdulmouin’s daily routine during the current restriction of movement, as part of precautionary measures against COVID-19, always starts in his green sanctuary. Right after moving with his family to their new home in Insha’at neighbourhood, Homs, following four years of displacement, he found a new hobby, turning his balcony into a colourful garden. In that small garden, Abdulmouin cares for different types of flowers, vegetables and perennial plants.

 

an adolescent guy taking care of plants
UNICEF/Syria/2020/Aldroubi

“First, I check on the seeds, seedlings, nodes and mature plants and then I provide each with what it needs, from watering, aeration and trimming to transplanting, light or fertilizing.” After caring for the plants, Abdulmouin makes himself his favourite drink, yerba mate, and relaxes among the greens while sipping it with great joy.

Life has not been easy for Abdulmouin. Having been born with skeletal deformations, Abdulmouin had to spend most of his time at home, long before lockdown, especially after being forced to drop out of school following the family’s displacement back in 2012. When his family fled the violence around their home on the outskirts of Homs, Abdulmouin had completed the second grade and had to rely on the help of his family to continue his learning. “Thanks to my elder sister’s help, I learnt reading and writing at home,” he says. “Reading helps me search planting solutions, read films’ subtitles and stories, while I use writing mainly to chat with my best friend online.”

 

plants in plastic cups
UNICEF/Syria/2020/Aldroubi
an adolescent guy holding a plant in pot
UNICEF/Syria/2020/Aldroubi

For Abdulmounim, planting is a school in itself; “It takes immense patience to grow a plant and keep it healthy. It taught me to be patient,” he says. And it is much more than a hobby. He sees it as a service for earth and humanity. “Plants clean our air and cool down the warming. Due to the current lockdowns around the world, the earth is breathing better than ever before, and pollution levels are dropping,” he explains.  

“The colour green is also a great cure for depression.” A statement that is evident through Abdulmouin’s optimism, who sees a bright side to the unprecedented crisis of COVID-19 pandemic.

 

an adolescent guy taking care of plants
UNICEF/Syria/2020/Aldroubi
Hands holding a plant in a plastic cup
UNICEF/Syria/2020/Aldroubi

“To all adolescents and children out there struggling to cope with the lockdown I say: It will pass! Be patient and find your passion in life and focus on it. It will bring you great happiness just the way my sanctuary does.”

Read Abdulmouin’s inspiring story here: https://www.unicef.org/mena/stories/thing-trees