“I could not continue school because of the war”

My name is Adel and comes from the city of Idlib in northern Syria. I’m 19 years old. I finished the ninth grade but could not continue because of the war. I had to fly, the future was uncertain. When my brother died, I was depressed. My dad noticed it and told me to go with my cousins ​​to Turkey.

There I could then continue my studies and get a better future. We fled to an area bordering on Turkey, called Kherbat-Algoz. We talked to a smuggler who would help us get into Turkey. I did not have a passport.
On the way it happened a lot. Among other things, the Turkish police chased us and I had to leave my bags. I did everything to enter the country.
We arrived at a small town that I do not remember the name of, but belongs to Antakia. I paid a sum to the smuggler and rented an apartment together with my uncle.

I wanted to study further but it would not work. I had to work instead. I worked a little period but did not enjoy it. My friends recommended me to go on to Istanbul. I worked in a restaurant for 1.5 years. Then I worked with a syringe in a textile store. During this time, I never thought I would fly on to Sweden or any other country in Europe. I wanted to stay in Turkey and start over from zero.

One day I sat and the man who owned the textile store and talked. He told me he would fly to Germany or to Sweden. During this time, many people fled via Izmir. I told him I would think about the matter and talk to my family.
I was talking to my family. They were afraid I would take the boat in the middle of the winter when it was so windy. I could get the amount needed, about 1800 dollars. My parents and the man in the textile store helped me with the sum.

After two weeks we went to Izmir. The trip to Izmir was very tough. We followed the smuggler in the middle of the night in the drizzle. We had families with children with us. We made several escape attempts. For the first time, the smuggler told us that there were many police officers, so we had to walk into a truck and hide. We were 200 people in total. The second attempt was the same. Then you would put the money from a third person so that you could secure your money.

We went out at three at night and did a third attempt together with two smugglers, who started blowing up the dinghy. We went to a lake. We were about 40 people. There were older, young children, some were sick. Everyone brought their own bags. As we prepared the dinghy, it began to rain. But we would definitely continue our escape.

The smuggler taught one of us to drive the inflatable boat and come via GPS to an island belonging to Greece and from there we continued the flight. We went off at 4 at night. It was the first Eid day. Women and children were with us and everyone was afraid. Some could not swim, everyone had life jackets. Some meant we would not do it and we were worried. We went for about two hours in a lake and then we went to sea.

We could not see anything and were very worried that the Greek or Turkish police would see us. We drove 3.5 hours to and finally we saw the mountains from the Greek side. We had arrived at the island of Kos.
Everyone became very happy and happy that we arrived undamaged. We destroyed the dinghy because we could hear that they might send us back with the rubber boat. We walked for about 7 hours into the mountains to get to a place where you can receive paper documents in Greece. It was nice weather in Greece, sun and heat.
We were very tired and some had brought a sleeping bag or blanket. Some had to sleep on the ground.

We stayed in Kos for a whole day where they photographed us. We had to wait for a big boat that would take us to Athens. Then we had to go on our own by means of the Red Cross. In Athens we were also allowed to sleep on the ground because all hotels were fully booked.

We stayed for about seven days in Greece and then went on. We continued on foot and arrived at Hungary. Then we arrived in Serbia. In Serbia they treated us very badly. We had to sleep in a kind of tent that only consisted of a covered roof. There were many women and children. We did not get any food and there was no store nearby. But then the red cross came and helped us.
Towards the evening we went on to the train. We had to wait with a lot of people to go on. We arrived at Macedonia. There the police waited for us and we continued on a bus. Throughout our trip we went bus and train. Sometimes we got to sit on the bus for 12 hours. It was hard. Some became ill and you could not buy medicines or food. But we often got help from the people in the city or from the Red Cross.

We arrived in Austria. But the authorities did not want to receive more, so we had to move to Germany. When we arrived in Germany by train, we split. Some would travel to Holland others to Poland. I had decided to fly to Sweden, where I have relatives. In Germany, I only had friends. I stayed for a week at a refugee camp in Berlin. I was told that I could choose if I wanted to stay in Berlin or go to another country. I chose to go on to Sweden because I wanted to be close to my relatives.

An interpreter helped me to book trains from Berlin to Denmark. He said my ticket would arrive within two days. When I arrived in Denmark, I switched to Malmö, because my relatives live in Malmö. I arrived in the middle of the night. The whole flight took about a month and during that month we had not showered or eaten properly. I had only eaten cakes.
I met my aunt, which I had not met in five years. I was very tired and had pain in my entire body, so I needed to sleep for two days.

Mostly, I miss my parents whom I have not met in 2.5 years. This is the first time I leave them. For example, my siblings have been from my parents before, during their studies. It was very tough and my parents were afraid of me.

After each country I arrived, I sent my parents a postcard. They were so scared that I was drowning in the ocean. It was at that time that little boy Ayan drowned in 2015. But I managed to get out of the oceans and they became very happy and supported me. They wanted me to update them all the time. They even supported me when I arrived in Sweden and encouraged me to continue studying and never giving up. You’ve been fighting so much to get there, so keep on your dream!

A Million Stories Sweden: Nizar Keblawi, Nina Olsson, Sara Sarabi, Malin Gillberg, Daniel Björklund, Mats Nordström.

A Million Stories Sweden volunteers: Fariborz Ghadir, Mohamad Mohsin, Yazan Saad, Tarek Aloudallah, Dalia Saleem, Yara Ali, Ahmad Younes, Chaimae Hamri.

In association with



Dublin Core: Language: swe Subject: asylum, refugees, A Million Stories, Sweden