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Feature - Issue #11

Growing Hope

Photography by Fadi Al-Shami

How Syrians displaced by war have adapted to their new ways of living, just like the fungi they are now cultivating for their survival.

Mushrooms are one of Earth’s most fascinating lifeforms, neither plant nor animal, but fungi. Genetically more similar to humans than to plants, mushrooms breathe in oxygen and exhale carbon dioxide to survive. Like us, they have sensory perception, finding ways to adapt and respond to their environment, to regenerate, in the most unexpected places. It may not be a coincidence, then, that the two life forms, mushrooms and humankind, have created a symbiotic existence.

All living organisms need to adapt to their environments in order to survive, including humans. Early human societies would live nomadic lifestyles, often migrating in search of land or moving to warmer climes when winter set in. They would be forced to build new homes and start again when war or natural disasters destroyed their livelihoods.

Today, millions of Syrians, displaced and scattered within their homeland and outside, are finding ways to survive, adapt and regenerate in new - sometimes unfamiliar - environments. A civil war, raging since 2011, has led to the razing of homes and agricultural land, the stealing of people, peace and prosperity. Basic food items have been difficult to find or afford for Syrian people. The United Nations’ World Food Programme (WFP) says 12.4 million Syrians are in need of emergency food assistance in 2022 - that’s about 60% of the country’s population.

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