December 11, 2013
“You get used to sad news”
By Constanza Heller
When Ibrahim Dergham was 18 years old, he decided to move from Syria to Dubai. He worked at a hair saloon in one of those luxurious hotels with his older brother. He was not fleeing the humanitarian crisis because the so called civil war had not yet flared up. Ibrahim just knew Syrian mandatory military service for young adults was not an option for him. What he did not know is that coming back home to visit his family and friends would depend –still does- on peace.
When the armed conflict burst in Syria back in 2011, Ibrahim changed his destination and came to Argentina. Vavavoom is the name of his own hair saloon. It is located in the Buenos Aires City neighborhood of Palermo and it has been showing the shop open sign at the door for three months now.
Cream-coloured walls, two hairdresser chairs and mirrors and a comfortable sofa decorate Ibrahim´s welcoming shop. When the Buenosairesherald.com gets there, he is giving his Argentine Syrian descendant good friend Martín a haircut. They met at the Syrian Cultural Association that offered Ibrahim and many of his countrymen assistance to start over more than 12,000 km away from home.
“You get used to sad news”, this 25-year old hairdresser carrying quite a story upon his shoulders says. Bad news because his brother in law –a 40-year old police officer and father of four- was shot in the leg by rebel groups that try to secure democracy by raising arms against the government of Bashar al-Assad; tragic news because he also lost his 38-year old cousin under the deadly effects of the man-made nerve Sarin gas. Ibrahim’s cousin had cancer and just could not resist it.
“They have been long talking about chemical weapons. Syria was been put in a difficult situation. Before the Damascus’ attack, there had been another one in Aleppo and the government had evidence of it; it asked the United Nations investigators to go there but they did not. Then Damascus happened”, Ibrahim affirms as his Arab accents loses to the Spanish language he has been learning over the past two years and he finds the correct words to say “they were talking about chemicals before any attack happened”.
“Assad is not perfect but it is the best we have. The rebels have a terrorist mind”, Vavaboom’s owner tells the Buenosairesherald.com and admits that the escalating crisis world leaders seem to be failing to settle has forced Syrians to arm themselves to protect them from attacks. Ibrahim goes online almost everyday to chat with one of his uncles. His uncle shows up in Skype wearing a rifle cross her chest.
“The army just can’t protect them all. Damascus has problems, Aleppo has problems and people need help. If not they (rebels) get into your home and kill you. They protect themselves among each other, as a community”, he explains.
Ibrahim Dergham met his Argentine wife in Dubai. They married here. They have no children yet. Five months ago, Ibrahim received one of his oldest brothers and his sister in law who arrived from Syria. His brother is a blacksmith and is trying to make a living working on that. And Vavavoom is an onomatopoeia that could refer to name something or someone beautiful and delightful or mean that your engine is on and you are ready to go.