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i just can't get it all out of my mind

Today's email from Ryan. I'll be doing my own sort of post later on tonight, but I really feel that Ryan's voice in all of this needs to be heard.

i am still in aleppo. nervous, barely sleeping. ahmad and i are about to jump out of our skin. we want/need to get out of here as quick as possible. everyone is telling me to leave ahmad behind, drop him at a refugee camp or something and that i should make a run for the turkish border or take a flight out of aleppo. i can't leave him as he saved me and it would not be the right thing to do. we all took an oath when we got this job and i have to remain true to my principles and not desert a true brother at the first sign of danger.

we are waiting, nervously, to see if the turkish consulate here will give him a visa. we slept about three hours last night between 4-7. days without any real sleep and we realized yesterday that we had been so busy running around exploring every option to get out of syria that we hadn't eaten all day. finally, we picked over some chicken at the hotel around 10pm.

we arrived at the turkish consulate before it opened and there was already a long line. ahmad went to find out what documents he needed as it was closed yesterday and we couldn't call. i have been doing my best to try to always be prepared and was so upset with myself that we hadn't brought his passport photos. he needed to go back to the hotel to get them and i waited in line. it is only 20 minutes to the hotel and he was gone for over an hour. i was upset again because i realized i hadn't told him exactly where i put his photos and to make sure to exchange more money at the hotel ( ahmad told me to only bring lebanese lira and that they wouldn't accept dollars in syria. well, they only want dollars or syrian and we are losing $30 out of every $100) my stomach was in knots as i waited for him to return with the photo. nervous, thinking, planning - what will be the next step if no visa to turkey? thinking, what can i do next? what can i do now? just like i have been thinking since this all started Wed. he came back and then had to leave again, this time for only 15 minutes to get more money and we pushed ahead and he got his passport through the window. the man was yelling at him in arabic 'why are you here and not damascus? you need to apply for this in damascus. what are you doing here? where do you need to go?'

we sat on the road beside the line of people and waited to hear something. 30 minutes later a guard asked us to move. we stood up and moved further down the road but still close to the consulate waiting, waiting, needing to hear something. yes or no. leave for turkey today? if not, then what? the guard came over and started talking to us. it was around 11am. he said to come back at 2 or 2:30 and we will see if ahmad got the visa. it is 1 now. when ahmad was coming back from the hotel he saw a large number of protestors in the street with hezbollah flags. we thought to take the taxi back to the hotel and make some calls and then visit a travel agent for more information about visas. the road to our hotel is closed. no taxis will take us there because of the demonstration. maybe it is open now, i don't know. i am a target here, the syrians hate lebanese, and we are not safe. we both have our passports so if we get the visas then we'll forget the bags if the road is still closed and leave for the turkish border. we tried to find the travel agency but it was not possible. we spoke to a man in another hotel about options. we need to get out of syria today. IF we don't get the visa to turkey, then we will hire a cab to take us south, through damascus, to the jordanian border. we should be safe, well safer, in amman but i feel a need to get out of the middle east. i just found this information about turkey --- it is also dangerous now, http://www.smartraveller.gov.au/zw-cgi/view/Advice/Turkey , even if we make it to ankara, where i was thinking we would finally be able to relax a bit or at least feel safe, it will just be another spot that we need to get out of as quickly as possible and it is so difficult to get a visa for ahmad.

please, if any of you have ANY connections or know anyone who can help ahmad get a visa to a country where we can both be safe then let me know. we need to go to the usa but it will be SO difficult to get a visa, so difficult, but that is what we need. i hope we can get to ankara today where i can talk to the us embassy. if no visa, then we will have to endure another horrible cab ride through a territory which is definitely not safe for us and then damascus which is a possible target at anytime. what i've learned so far is that it is best to run while you can rather than to wait - in this situation, things will only get worse so we need to get out as quickly as we possibly can.

ahmad just called the turkish consulate from the internet center. they asked him again 'why didn't you apply in damascus? why you trying to get it from here?' we need to wait until 3 for an answer. ..... .... i need to rest. i haven't had time to process anything that has happened.

ahmad's family is staying in my apartment as their neighborhood has been destroyed. we can't get through. we watch the country falling apart on the news. we can't believe.

sorry if this message is not as clear as my last one. i need to be sharp, prepared and i am upset at myself for not trying harder to sleep, rest, relax so that i can be at my best in every moment. i feel alert but not as fresh as i did before.

please say prayers for us and for all the people involved in this conflict. again, if you know anyone who can help get ahmad a visa to the USA then PLEASE help me. he saved my life and i will stay here as long as necessary to make sure that he is safe even if it means that i need to take some risks. my parents are willing to pay for all his expenses and vouch for him so that he wouldn't need to work. he can take classes at the community college in my town and live with my parents until it is possible to safely return to lebanon.


Please, if you know anyone that can help, let me know.
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