“My husband Mustafa and I are from the Daria region in Syria, which suffered first from the war. We decided to go away from this region, moving from place to place within Syria. For 14 years before the war, I worked with orphans and Mustafa was studying. Because of this, he did not need to be part of the military. Soon the law changed. Whether he was a student or not, he was forced to be part of the military action. We saw over 3,000 people die in one day. This was hard, especially for our son.
We left Syria and went to Lebanon. We tried to start our life there. There were many barriers that prohibited us from working. In the work place, it didn’t matter whether we were there legally or illegally — because we are Syrians, the locals could come to our work any moment, take us outside and say we had to stop. Our son also suffered injustice at school.
It was hard to get a residence permit. Lebanon wanted us to have a guarantor – a local resident, who could vouch for us in Lebanon. With no residence permit and most of our money lost, the Lebanese government put stamps in our passports that indicated we had to leave. That same evening, we left for Turkey.
It was impossible to go back to Syria, it wasn’t safe. We couldn’t go to Egypt, where Mustafa has family, we weren’t welcome in Lebanon and we couldn’t manage in Turkey. The pressure was great and the difficulties were real. We saw no other option but to go to Greece. There was no legal way to do so, smugglers were the only option.
Life in Syria and this journey are different experiences. In Syria, we risked death or losing our child every day, this forced us to move.
We began reading about Estonia to know more about this country, which now gives us hope and welcomes us. It is secure and quiet here. People are genuinely sympathetic. They understand what we have gone through. This is humbling and gives us hope that we can make it.
From the expressions on the faces of some people, we see that they are worried about us being here. Once, when I was queuing at the bank, the cleaner started bothering me. I took some chocolate and gave a bit to my son and also to her. She started smiling and changed her attitude. Now, every time I now go outside, I take sweets with me.
We hope our son succeeds in Estonia. We want to show our culture to the locals and learn more about theirs in turn. I am skilled at cooking tasty meals and making handcrafts. We hope to open a café. We have been helped and we want to give back to this society.”