When Alaeddin fled Aleppo, Syria, in February 2016, he was leaving behind his wife and newborn daughter, looking forward to pave their way to a safe life in Europe. After almost 11 months, he was among the first group of beneficiaries – for 2017– to be relocated from Greece to Portugal, under the EU relocation programme, implemented by IOM Greece.
After arriving on the island of Lesbos and then going to the port of Piraeus, Alaeddin met a Greek family that welcomed him in their home and asked him to volunteer as a translator, helping with various issues concerning the refugee population staying near Greece’s biggest port. He was the perfect choice, because he’s a polyglot. “I’m fluent in English and Arabic and I also speak basic Greek, Portuguese and Chinese.” Alaeddin said, smiling at our surprise: “Back in Syria, I had a cosmetics store. I would travel to China to import products so I got to learn the language basics as I found it helped a lot.”
But, he’s not your regular salesman: “I have a degree in telecommunications and I was also studying economics which I haven’t finished yet”.
After volunteering in various camps around Athens as a translator he got a real job with an NGO, while waiting to be relocated. “This procedure takes a long time really and I feel as if I’m putting my dreams on hold,”, he said. “I know that I’m off to a beautiful country with very nice people. I’m really qualified and I would like to start working as soon as possible. I would really love to work as a translator, I have lots of professional experience now and a thorough knowledge on the refugee issue. Actually, if I had the opportunity to work for an organization such as the IOM, that would be a big start for me!” he said with a big smile on his face.
Through the EU Relocation Programme, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) in Greece supports the Government of Greece in relocating, with safety and dignity, asylum seekers to other EU Member States of Relocation (MSR). The Programme is funded by the Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund of the European Union (AMIF).