Electricity in Syria: The Suggested Solutions Curse Darkness But Don’t Light Up Candles

Translated by; Aishah Barazi

How could the last flame of a candle become a distinguished remark of your day?! In the beginning, you will truly regret not bringing another candle before the first candle had extinguished. Then, you will also regret spending time on your “laptop” writing nonsense till its battery became dead instead of using its screen’s light to bring another candle. After that, you will again regret consuming the laptop’s power in writing the same nonsense and not going to the restroom or brining a glass of water. Last, you will realize where did the saying “lighting up a candle is better than cursing darkness” came from.

Undoubtedly, the man of that candle was residing in an area which is very similar to Syria’s liberated regions where nonstop aerial and ground shelling and flat electrical blackout since long months take place. For instance, the blackout has been ongoing for approximately eight months in the towns and villages of Eastern Ghouta.

The only alternative is gasoline-generators because their counter diesel-generators are huge and too expensive; not to mention the lack of diesel in our area.

An average of 130 Syrian pounds is the price per liter of gasoline. It can run the generator for almost an hour-and-half and produce sufficient power to operate several light bulbs, computer devices and other things. However, it won’t operate the refrigerator, laundry machine, heaters or air conditioners. These turned into faraway dreams that we can only mention with a great deal of nostalgia and gratitude.

Most families here cannot afford the expenses of gasoline-generators for there are other insisting expenses. Filling a gas-cylinder costs around 2200 Syrian pounds which is five times more than what it used to be. Additional expenses would be filling water tanks, buying diesel to heat water for bathing in winter and many other basic needs that do not rise up to the luxury of having electrical power at home.

All schools moved classes to the basements of their buildings to protect students from indiscriminate shelling. It takes a lot of effort not to be rude in your initial reaction when entering to any of these schools. The room barely has any oxygen, generators poorly light up the “classes” and of course, there is no point of speaking about air-filters or air-conditioners.

It is very common that a school’s generator suddenly runs out of gasoline and the “vicious teacher” asks the students to get flashlights out of their bags and turn them on to continue the lesson instead of sending students home as they were hoping!

All crafts that depend on electricity have stopped due to the fact that all suggested solutions are expensive, temporarily and they all become useless in the blaze of summer.

In some areas, the local councils started allocating a huge diesel-generator to distribute electrical power to the residents in need for a 200 Syrian pounds charge per day and a four-hour service only.

At midnight, when the noise of the very few working generators stops, the whole place literally doused in darkness. And when the last flame of a candle extinguished, the “dark” ideas starts to come. Eight months and all the locally suggested solutions could barely light up a candle! There are initiatives for long term alternatives but they are all being presented and tested by fighting battalions. Besides that it is principally wrong, this leads to massive delay because these initiatives need uncommitted specialists to work only on them.

Is it reasonable that there is no one to help local councils in the liberated areas to find solutions that will ease the residents suffering during electrical blackout? Isn’t that enough to curse the darkness and many other things as well?