At first, Ahmad Muaddamani was a distant voice coming through my computer speakers: a fragile whisper from a hidden basement. When I made contact with him on Skype, on 15 October 2015, he hadn’t left Darayya in nearly three years.
Located less than eight kilometres from the Syrian capital, Damascus, his town was a sarcophagus, surrounded and starved by the regime. He was one of 12 000 survivors.
They had been under fire from rockets, barrel bombs and even a chemical weapon attack for many months. Syria’s president, Bashar al-Assad, had besieged the town since November 2012. Like many others, Ahmad’s family had packed their suitcases and escaped to a neighbouring town. They begged him to follow. He refused – this was his revolution, his generation’s revolution.