Published online by Cambridge University Press: 20 May 2022
Chapter 2 goes back in time to the three entrepreneurs’ lives in a peaceful prewar Syria, and their flights to safety in Za'atari. All three lead comfortable lives before the sudden, life-altering events of the Arab Spring: protests in Dara'a, the Syrian government’s violent response, and families fleeing homes amid subsequent fighting. Yasmina is living out her childhood passion, running a salon and wedding shop in Dara'a. Her family flees when she is seven months pregnant; on the way to Za'atari, they shelter in others' homes and abandoned schoolhouses, and her son is born premature. Asma grew up adoring school, but her lack of confidence and the busyness of raising a family kept her from her dream of teaching. Still, living in a large house with an olive tree in Dara'a, Asma enjoys her days reading to her children, Tamara, Ashraf, and newborn Maya. Just twenty days after Maya’s birth, Asma's family flees. Only a teenager and the youngest of thirteen siblings, Malak leads a joyful life filled with art, family, and friends in Damascus. She cries with her sisters just before leaving, unwilling to accept that the next morning she would wake up in a tent within a refugee camp.