THE BLOG
01/22/2014 10:54 pm ET Updated Mar 24, 2014

I Was Born in Australia, Made in Syria

Ranya Alkadamani holds a child in Jordan's Zaatari refugee camp.

I was born in Australia, made in Syria.

The people -- my people -- are warm, welcoming, loving.

If you have ever been to Syria, I am certain you would also agree Syrians are some of the most hospitable people in the world.

This is why recent events are so heartbreaking.

And as negotiations are taking place in Montreux right at this moment, let me share with you what those people most affected by the conflict want: Khalas. Kehfiya. Enough.

I have spent the last two weeks in Zaatari refugee camp, which shelters and protects over 85,000 Syrian refugees in Jordan.

I went to document their stories, to find hope and show people that these Syrian refugees are just like you and me -- they want to be in their homes, they want their kids to go to school, they want food and shelter, they long for culture, music and gardens.

They want warmth.

After the many winters I spent in Syria, I knew how freezing the Middle East would be over this period, so in October last year, together with the people of Perth, Western Australia, we collected over 100,000 sweaters for Syrian refugees. And that is what took us to Zaatari.

As we met refugees and delivered sweaters, I drank dozens of Arabic coffees each day. We were invited into tents, invited in for lunch, invited in for coffee, invited in to help pass the memories of all that was lost.

I heard horrible stories, fought back tears, then couldn't hold back any longer. Barrel bombs, schools targeted by the regime, the Free Syrian Army helping every single refugee I met get across the border.

Nothing was more stark to me than seeing 200 refugees coming across the border from Syria into Jordan. As I pulled up in the UNHCR 4WD and saw the line of people carrying all they could -- their blankets, their babies, their lives -- my heart stopped.

This is where it begins. Their lives as refugees.

What levels of desperation must these poor people be facing when they made that decision to leave everything behind.

In a weird way, there was almost joy. Relief of course. These people were now safe. The part of the journey at the border that will stay with me forever is carrying Muhammad, a 10-month-old gorgeous baby boy across into Jordan.

Of the countless discussions I had with refugees, everyone had the same position on Assad. They want him gone. They all want an end to the fighting. Everyone said: "As soon as the war is over, I will pick up my family and go back. Syria is my country. You can never be happy unless you are in your country. I could be in a palace. But all I want to be in is my home."

They also said: "Syria can't go on with Assad. He has killed our children."

So for those of you in Montreux, if Assad wants to stand for reelection, let him. But under UN auspices. Then he can truly see how much support he really has. Close to nothing. And we can all finally move on from this crisis.

When Hussain, a taxi driver from Ghouta who had his leg injured from shelling a year ago looked into my eyes and said, "Ranya, they destroyed everything, they destroyed us. Bab Thouma, there is no Bab Thouma," I felt it. I felt it for everything I knew in Damascus and knew was gone. I shared his loss. I mourned the city with him.

He continued: "You wouldn't believe with your own eyes what they did to us."

The most still moment was when I asked what he saw when he closed his eyes and dreamt of Syria. "What do I see?" he said, "I imagine driving my taxi, then going to Jabal Qasuoon for a coffee, then going home to see my wife and having an argument with her (looks at his wife and chuckles into her eyes). It was a beautiful life."

"I will take you in my taxi when we go back to Syria."

Inshallah Hussain, inshallah.