Fatima and her son, Suleiman
At 67, Fatima became one of the tens of thousands of refugees fleeing war-torn Syria. Now, 13 months after arriving in Greece, she’s about to relocate to Finland.
“I brought 12 children into this world”, Fatima says, sitting on a wheelchair while holding a thick wooden cane. “Now, two of my children are in Sweden, two are in Germany and another three are still in Syria”.
Fatima is surrounded by her son, Suleiman, her daughter in law and her grandkids. They all show a lot of affection to the soft-spoken matriarch. “We left our hometown of Afrin because there was nothing there for us anymore. We have been through so much pain, so much fear, so many humiliations. I knew it would be a difficult journey but I could still walk on my own and I had my four sons with me, so that kept me calm and composed. We had to reach Europe and we arrived last February, on the island of Lesbos. Now, the time has come to move to Finland. It’s always difficult to make a new start, especially for someone of my age. I feel somewhat apprehensive about moving to Finland, but all I want is to be together with my children and my grandchildren. I know we will find our way in our new home – I don’t miss Syria at all, Syria is over for me.”
Suleiman, at 35, has to take care of his mother and his young family. “I have dreams for them. My children are my biggest priority, of course, I want them to have the best possible education, so that they will be able to advance professionally. But, I also have my own little dream. Back in Syria, I was working as a car painter and I was looking forward to start my own workshop. I had to abandon this plan because of the war but now that I’m moving to Finland, I will make my dream come true, I will start my own business”, Suleiman says enthusiastically, holding his children in his arms.
Through the EU Relocation Programme, the International Organization for Migration in Greece (IOM) 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).