A stranger in your own country
If you can’t change anything, you have to go … The situation in the country did not allow any changes. The war destroyed everything. Not only was it life-threatening – you couldn’t get a job and even if you did, you didn’t earn enough. You couldn’t live in a future-oriented way, but only from moment to moment.
As if the war wasn’t enough, I was discriminated against by my fellow countrymen because my roots lie in Palestine. Although I was born in Syria and lived in Damascus, that didn’t matter to them. “You aren’t from here!” they shouted. What they really meant was “You don’t belong here“. It hurt me deeply and that is when I decided to leave the country.
The search for hope gets buried when you realize there is nothing there anymore.
At the time Damascus wasn’t a contested area yet, but there were nevertheless air raids on the outskirts of the city, and we could see the explosions. But after some time, life-threatening situations became more and more frequent.
Once I was in the Old City with a friend. There were lots of lovely restaurants and shisha bars. We had just smoked a pipe and drunk something and were on our way back by foot. Suddenly bombs fell. I could hear all the bomb splinters. I could have died at that moment. We just ran off, didn’t look back. Main thing was to get away!
I have lost five people from my circle of friends and family in the war.
My cousin was the one, who announced to me and my family that he wanted to flee. My brother refused to leave because he wanted to finish his masters at university first. By the way, he has fled to Hamburg in the meantime.
One of my sisters is now in the Netherlands and the other stayed in Damascus with my parents. I, on the other hand, wanted to join my cousin at once. We didn’t think about it too long. In two days he wanted to march off. I took a rucksack, packed a jacket, a pair of trousers, T-shirts, pullover. I imagined that it could become cold.
My cousin knew a smuggler, who took us to Turkey. There we went our separate ways. My cousin decided to travel via Greece. I, on the other hand, wanted to take a boat directly to Italy. For many this is not understandable. But for me it didn’t make a difference whether I travelled alone or with a companion. I make the decisions for myself and my life. Travelling alone enables me to react to situations according to what I personally feel is the safest way.
On the open sea
From Turkey I got into a boat with 300 people with Italy as our destination. Unfortunately the smugglers fooled us. They didn’t take the direct route, but stopped over in Egypt and acted as though they were buying provisions for us there. Instead, they took along even more people! That was very risky: If the coast guard had picked us up, we would have been sent back to Syria and we would have been finished. There was hardly any space to move on the boat. You could only stand or lie down.