Fleeing a war-torn country and losing everything you’ve ever owned.
It’s a scene most of us cannot imagine but, for Syrian refugee Darwich Sido, it was a reality.
Eight years ago, Darwich, his wife Zaynab and three children, Mohamad, Khalil and Aysha, were forced to leave their home in Aleppo to seek refuge in Lebanon.
It came after the family lost everything, including their business, to the ravages of war.
“Me and my extended family had a very large tailor business,” Darwich said.
“My father gave the business to me and this all was lost when we had to leave, when all of our homes and buildings were destroyed and burnt down.
“My family is still back home, and they are also still struggling to live a humble life, with their first source of money gone.
“We had to leave and go escape to Lebanon for my kids to be safe and for me to be able to give them a happy life.”
In Lebanon, the family began the journey of seeking refuge to Australia and, in May 2016, they finally arrived on our shores.
Darwich, Zeynab and the children then moved to Newcastle to start a new life – a time which Mr Sido described as both rewarding and difficult.
“It was very hard,” he said.
“[Just] think about leaving your home, family and business and having to go somewhere new, starting from scratch, not even knowing if your family is going to be safe tomorrow.”
He added that, while it was difficult, the Newcastle community made them feel very welcome.
“It’s a beautiful city, very respectful and nice people, [everyone] welcomed us with smiles,” Darwich said.
“The community is very giving, and everyone wants to help as much as they can.”
Fast forward four years, and the Sido’s are thriving in Newcastle. The family even launched its own tailoring business, Sido Tailor, in 2018.
And, while it hasn’t come without its struggles, Darwich said it’s been nice to give back to the community that has given them so much.
“At first it was very difficult, the business was very slow,” he said.
“Then we thought of making face masks to sell for only $5 as an engagement for the community, because we know the pandemic has been tough on everyone.
“So, this [is our way] of thanking Newcastle people.”