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Mouaz

Syria
24
At the start, I was anxious about integrating because I was a bit afraid people would tell me I had to change, however, this never happened. I am still myself, more than ever. I am extremely proud of myself for how far I have come and how much I have achieved.

It all started on 11th March 2011, the biggest and toughest war yet. At first it was hard to accept it, but in order to win our freedom, we knew we would lose friends, family or even our country at some point. Our dreams weren’t so big; we just wanted a country in which we could think and live freely, but this was just an illusion that could never happen. Of course we realised it a few years after the revolution began, then we could see clearly that we would never succeed. However, we always had hope that we would.

 

The most difficult thing was when I started to think about my family: how would I leave without knowing if I would ever see them again?

When we were all waiting for the moment to start the revolution. We all wanted to get the country back from the Mercenaries (al- Ásad Government). I would say that it was just an occupation. After five years of living in hell, the government and their allies started to attack all the villages and cities that we had to take back. I was trapped in a small village with a group of eleven friends. We were supposed to be more than twenty-five but fate decided that not everyone would live. We knew from the beginning that not all of us would survive until today; that was what we were always afraid of. We were all shocked about what was happening. Even little children who didn’t realise what was going on were shocked. We were sad, we had the feeling that we would suffer a heavy loss and it would take all the precious things that we had. The situation began to get worse; food started to run out, a suffocating siege happened, and the government and its allies destroyed the infrastructure almost completely. After that, we only had two options: to stay in our country and fight with the Government against our people or to leave Syria with little hope of returning.

The decision wasn’t really difficult. None of us would accept staying there to kill the people we were defending the whole time. Still, it was so painful to leave. I felt like my heart was being pulled out. When I started walking to take the bus, I realised that we had lost everything and had to accept that it was our choice to take this decision. The most difficult thing was when I started to think about my family: how would I leave without knowing if I would ever see them again? But we left regardless because we did not want to accept the bitter truth. My friends and I started talking about the journey that was going to start for us soon. We were not afraid of anything, but our thoughts were occupied with all that we had lost. We first arrived in the city of Idlib (the stronghold of the major opposition) which borders Turkey, the starting point of our trip. We had to stay there for a longer period of time than we expected. We had some friends there and were able to stay in someone’s house for at least eight days. During this time, we tried to calm ourselves and prepare for the next step. On 11th December 2016, we managed to cross to Turkey. After two attempts, we got to the city of Mersin (Turkey). There was a friend waiting to help us to find a house and some other things to start our new life. When we arrived there, we thought everything was going to be easy but of course we didn’t expect to find a huge castle and a modern car prepared for us. We just thought it would be as simple as life was in Syria. But it wasn’t. It was a completely different world and we had to learn a new language and wait more than a year to get our documents which proved to be useless. Life was a bit hard in Turkey, even for Turkish people. After three months living there, I started to lose hope and hadn’t reached my goals. I know three months is not enough time, but I always have a vision for the future and plans for the worst case scenarios. This was what war taught me. Anyway, I started to think about going to Europe. I knew for sure it would be the best place for me to start. But I had one problem: not all of my friends liked the idea of going there. I didn’t want to face going to a new place alone. My friends were the only one reason for me to stay in Turkey. When I decided to leave them, I was sad for a few days. I knew it would be hard but I thought it was the best thing to do for myself.

 

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On 23rd July 2017, I left everything behind me and I started another trip; hoping this one would be my last. I went to a city called Azmir, where people who want to reach Europe go. A smuggler was already waiting for me there. Luckily, I had a place to stay until I got out of Turkey. I didn’t have to wait very long. In three days, the smuggler called to tell me about my trip. I was going to leave in the night. I was a bit stressed because I didn’t know what I was going to face going into the unknown. A few hours later, a man came to my room. “Get ready, we are leaving in two hours,” he told me. I started getting ready and I went to the reception where he was waiting for me. There was a taxi outside the hostel and we left. I still didn’t know where I was going but I was fine because I was going to reach Greece. We arrived at a place  that seemed like a forest, we walked a bit and I saw other people waiting. When I saw there were children I told myself, “This is going to be a mess!” There were more than forty women and children on the same boat. Around 1:00 AM, we left Turkey. The trip was supposed to be forty five minutes but because of a driver’s mistake we got lost in the sea for more than an hour and half until the navy found us and took us to Chios Island. On the island, I had to do some routine procedures like registration and some background checks. Then I had to wait in a camp like all the people that were there. I was a bit scared when I started hearing from people that we would stay on the island for at least six months. I stayed with two men that I met on the boat. They have now become my best friends: Salam and Mohammed. The days started passing. One week later, they put my name in for an interview and I was so happy. I waited for sixteen more days before they called me to meet them again. When I got into the office, the girl told me,  “Congratulations, we’ve accepted your asylum!” At that moment, I really touched the sky. I started signing some documents to get a card which allowed me to go wherever I wanted in Greece. I moved from the island to Thessaloniki with the others. There I met another friend called Abdullah, who also became my best friend. I started learning English because it was really important to me to be able to communicate with people and my first friends from Europe. In the beginning, I didn’t even know how to say one single phrase, six months later, and I was fluent. I owe them a lot, especially my first teachers Julia, Ana and Sergi, who wasn’t just a friend, but a brother to me. There were a lot of kind people who I love a lot. At the start, I was anxious about integrating because I was a bit afraid people would tell me I had to change, however, this never happened. I am still myself, more than ever, and I am surrounded by the best people I could possibly imagine. I am extremely proud of myself for how far I have come and how much I have achieved.

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Vidia
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Vidia