Continuing in the series on ordinary life in various localities in Syria, we turn to Sa'sa' in Damascus countryside, located in proximity to Bayt Tayma and Beit Jann. To learn more about Sa'sa', I interviewed the outlet Sa'sa' al-Youm.
This interview was conducted on 15 July 2019. It is slightly edited and condensed for clarity. Any parenthetical insertions in square brackets are my own.
Q: First can you tell me a little about Sa'sa' generally?
A: The locality of Sa'sa' is a rural area, located between the provinces of Damascus countryside and Quneitra. Its inhabitants are divided into two types: a displaced portion since 1973 from the occupied Syrian Golan, and another portion from the original people of the locality. There is also a portion of our Palestinian refugee brothers. The locality is divided into rocky land and agricultural land. The river al-Awaj enters it from its northern portion. There is a municipal office in it affiliated with Damascus countryside, and a tajammu' of displaced persons affiliated with Quneitra. There are two clinics in it: one for Damascus countryside, another for Quneitra. It also has an automatic telephone exchange. Sa'sa' is considered a district for a number of areas. In it is the district [office] and Sa'sa' police station. There is one automatic oven. The biggest of the families of the original inhabitants: Mal. And of the displaced persons of the Golan: the al-Hamdan clan. There are a number of schools. The main crops are potatoes, carrots and wheat. And there is cultivation of all greens. A fertile area. There are private and state schools, shops, repair workshops, a guidance unit, and four mosques.
Q: How is life generally in the locality? Has the situation improved since the reconciliations and the return of the region entirely to the embrace of the homeland?
A: The insurgents did not enter the area except the western part of it. Life was and still goes on in it. It is considered the active locality in the whole region, and the artery of life. Its people love work and are of those loyal to love of the homeland and state. Guests teem with the inhabitants.
Q: How many martyrs has the locality offered in defence of the homeland during the events?
A: It has offered many. And today it offered another martyr from the Taijan family.
Q: So it has offered dozens of martyrs.
A: Yes, dozens. Also a number of people kidnapped by the insurgents whose fate remains unknown: civilians and military personnel kidnapped. Also i has offered people wounded by the mortars of the insurgents, and civilian martyrs.
Q: How are services in the locality currently? For how many hours does national grid electricity come? And is water available from the state network?
A: Praise be to God we are still well. And the services are present. The electricity currently is excellent. There is rationing. Water, a blessing from God, is available.
Q: Yes approximately 4 hours [the electricity] comes and it is cut of for two hours I think.
A: There is no specified time of rationing but it is trivial relative to the past years.
Q: All the water is from the al-Awaj river?
A: No. The water is from wells. The al-Awaj water is for irrigating the crops.
Q: Right. And the wells are within the state network.
Q: You never have to buy from tankers?
A: No, never.
Q: Praise be to God.
A: Praise be to God. Sometimes there is fault. The people seek help in tankers. There is a problem only in the branch streets. Although there are a number of poor people in the locality, the land is nonetheless sufficient to provide for the people from its resources.
Q: Are the services good in general? Are there any building or development or renovation projects recently?
A: There is nothing on the ground right now. And Sa'sa' needs another oven, because the one present does not suffice for the people, especially in the tajammu' of the displaced people. Also there are neighbourhoods in which there is no sewage [system] until now.
Q: I see. Regarding building a new oven there is for example no self-financing campaign from the inhabitants? Or a donations campaign?
A: What donations, when the people's salary does not suffice for them?
Q: I mean for example donations from the locality's exiles?
A: None at all.
Q: How is the security situation in the area?
A: The security situation is excellent. The people cooperate with the relevant authorities, and there are officials from the locality in the state.