DAMASCUS, Syria -- Before the Syrian economic crisis, Bashar and his wife, both doctors, lived with their three children in a three-bedroom apartment with a spacious living room.
Bashar, 35, supplemented a modest salary from a government hospital with shifts at three private hospitals and a private clinic, where his wife also worked. They earned the equivalent of about $25,000 a year, making them wealthy by Syrian standards. Now, with parts of the city inaccessible and wealthy patients fleeing, his jobs have dwindled to one, and his wife is unemployed. When the collapse of the Syrian pound is factored in, he makes about $1,090 per year.
His family's story is one of many that show how war, displacement and a currency crash have upended a professional class that was proportionally one of the Arab world's largest.
To mention that he and his family ate meat or fish every day sounds strange, because they never thought twice about it. Now, they rarely eat meat and have had no fish for two months.
"I used to buy everything for my children and wife, the best food, meat, fruits, sweets and clothes," said Bashar, who did not want his last name published for fear of reprisal. "Now I am always asking the grocer what is the price today for this thing or that, because maybe the price increased in the last 24 hours."
The family has been forced to move from one home to another. Its house in the Tadamon neighborhood of Damascus was bombed a year ago. The family moved to Yarmouk, a former Palestinian refugee camp, but the rebels seized much of it and then the government began bombing it.
Now the family lives in a sparsely furnished apartment in a poor area in the jumbled concrete outskirts of Damascus, not far from the areas under bombardment.
"Doctors are considered rich or middle class, but today everyone is affected by the economic crisis," Bashar said. "The poor class is dying, the middle class is becoming the poor class, and the rich class has left the country."
This article originally appeared in The New York Times.