Roula is a 31-year-old hairdresser from Daraa, Syria. Together with her family, she’s about to relocate from Greece to Portugal.
“I was out with my son, Moulham. My husband, Suleiman, and my daughter, Kinana, were at home when the bomb struck. Arriving at my destroyed house, with my loved ones buried underneath the rubble, I nearly lost my mind. Thankfully, the Red Crescent managed to get them out and transport them to a makeshift hospital at the buffer zone between the regime army and the rebels. My daughter had both her legs in plaster for a very long time and my husband’s back was badly damaged.
I used to be a hairdresser and Suleiman was a chef. When the war started, there were no jobs so Suleiman was working here and there to make ends meet. But we had our house so we didn’t plan to leave Daraa, our hometown. After the bombing, we spent another two months there, so that both Suleiman and Kinana could make the journey. It took us one month to get to the Turkish-Syrian border. We walked for 9 hours each night to avoid trouble and I was pregnant and carrying Kinana on my back.
In Turkey, it was the first time we ever saw the sea. It was terrifying, as well as the crossing to the island of Chios, on January 2016. After we got registered, we were sent to Ritsona accommodation centre near Athens. A few months later, I gave birth to my baby boy, Mohammad. We got in the Relocation Programme, hoping to settle to Germany. However, God or fate, you name it, decided that Portugal will be our new home. I hope that everything is going to be fine. I don’t care about me, I only care about the future of my children. My son Moulham is 9 years old and he has never been to school. He doesn’t know how to read or write, it’s very important for me that all of my children will have access to education. We didn’t leave out country because we were poor or hungry but to escape war. All we want is to live a life in dignity. Dignity is the most important thing for a human being.
Now that our adventure is drawing to an end, I have so many memories, some bad and some good. A fond one is Greece and its people. You have been so kind and generous to us. We’ll never forget you”.
The Relocation Programme of the EU is implemented by IOM Greece. 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).