I have had a lot of problems with my family. My family has a lot of children. Girls in my family have to get married at 14. I did not agree to this. I was 19 when I wanted to get away from home because of this subject. That is why I was hated at home. I studied. I left my family when I was 27 years old. After my parents separated, everything got torn apart.
I lived alone. I worked, sold cigarettes and saved the money from work. I have seen the war getting worse. Syria has turned out to be way too much for me. I called my sister. My sister lives in Rheine in Germany today, but was still in Daraa with her husband then. My sister has not visited me here until today. She cannot come because she has a lot of children, eight of them.
I said to my sister, “Come get me!” Until she came and finally got me. She and her children came to get me. Life in Syria was suddenly very dangerous. Someone may be asleep, and it is possible that he may die. The situation in Syria is very very difficult.
I now know Greece, Macedonia and Turkey. I kind of passed out. We rented someone, a smuggler. A mountain is between the Syrian-Turkish border. We took the bus to the mountain. We walked across the mountain from Syria to Turkey. Four men from the smugglers carried me on their shoulders. I died, I saw the death. It took a day. Of course we had to arrive very quickly, because there were police officers and it was forbidden. We could die in every second.
We knew this was dangerous. But the important thing is that we could come. And I hope there’s humanity here too. That is why I came. We drove from Daraa to the mountains by bus. The journey takes about one day. Then the smugglers carried me. It took us about eight hours to cross the mountain. Turkey was down there. In Turkey we took a hotel room until my sister’s husband arrived. My sister’s husband took a different path from Daraa. It lasted three days. We waited for him at the hotel. Maybe we were at the hotel for about ten days. When I got here, I could not even speak. The foreigners on the way helped us, gave us blankets, a tent and food. From Turkey we went by bus to a place where the sea is. We went on a rubber dinghy with 50 other people. I was trapped on the ground for six hours under the others. There was not enough room, they were all on me, on my legs, on my neck. They say, “Hold on a bit, we can’t get away from you.” I wished I would die. My sister was on the boat, too. She was afraid for her children. The boat was so small, it scared me.
I have been in that rubber dinghy for six hours. The sea was so wide and the boat shifted a lot. The engine has failed twice. Then we stood there twice, so we had a very long journey. It is forbidden to take another route. We were afraid of falling into the water. The waves were very strong. When we got out of the rubber dinghy, a bus was waiting for us. That was in Greece. The bus took us to the big ship. It took a while. Maybe a day. The big ship was also in Greece. I got a wheelchair on the boat. I don’t know the cities after that. They carried me like a corpse, I do not know anything about it anymore. I haven’t been drinking, eating or talking anymore. I can tell I am lucky, for arriving.
Then we got out again, because after that another bus appeared. And after that, many trains, at least four or five.
When we arrived in Germany, we went to a camp for refugees that I did not like. So we took off at night. At the camp in Borbach there were problems between me and my sister. My sister left the camp with her children and took a flat in Rheine. I told my sister, “take me to Germany.” She did that, and then she left me alone in the camp. I have been there for a year. In that year my condition and appearance improved. I became more independent, I started cleaning myself. They got me a nurse in Borbach who showered or washed me every day. I was able to maintain myself there better than now. Why? There was a test to decide whether my state of health was sufficient for me to live alone. Then they kept me in the hospital near Borbach for a month because of an ostomy. They took me away from everything, I could not leave the room. I became dependent. I became sleepy. After that, I could not do anything on my own. They have done some research and decided I am going to Cologne. And then I had a caregiver. The caregiver brought me here. I have not had contact with him since then.
I am doing very well now. I want an electric wheelchair. They do not agree here. I have been in the refugee hostel for a year, but I am not going outside. My big dream here in Germany is an electric wheelchair! I have great eyesight, it is not true that my eyes are too bad.
I have two things I want that I do not know how to accomplish. The first is the electric wheelchair, the second is that I want to learn German. I cannot learn so well if the teacher only speaks German. I think it would be easier if the person would speak Arabic too.
I would also like to say that the Germans are very good, their character and their manners. They treated me well at the hostel. Also here they are very good to me and very nice. But I do not get out that much. I am always at home. I would like to see my sister too, but they won’t bring me to her. My sister cannot come, because she says that if I leave my home for an hour, everything gets mixed up. And I also want Syrian food and bread, Syrian kibbeh and shawarma.
Storyteller’s name: Anonymous
Interviewer’s name: Sarah Dudek and Sarah Djamila El Desoke
Country of origin: Syria