“We had to leave to avoid being physically and mentally ill”

My name is Yousef.

I was a philosophy teacher at the Syrian university for more than 30 years. I loved my work and I was very dedicate to it. I’m glad I had an important role in the country.

When the Arab spring began in Syria in 2011, I participated in a cultural and political context, as a philosopher at the university.

We were struggling in our daily life, until our house was bombed in 2012 in the Yarmuk refugee camp. We moved to another house, that we rented for a year. We decided to leave after the government attacked Gouta with chemicals. It was difficult to live with all these chemicals.

Me and my wife were invited to a conference in Stockholm. After the conference we decided to stay in Sweden.

I did’nt come to Europe to live a better life, and I did’nt come here for economic improvement. It was impossible to live in Damascus and throughout the whole Syria. We had to leave to avoid being physically and mentally ill. This was the problem.

Syria and Damascus are always on my mind. I’m still a Syrian. My feelings are still Syrian. it’s impossible to live in the country, life has collapsed. You can’t drive around in the city because you don’t know when a missile will fall. You could die at any time.

I miss my house, which was destroyed by missiles. Most houses in the refugee camp Yarmuk were destroyed. I miss my library that I built for 40 years. I had about 10,000 books in French, English, German and Arabic. But I lost everything. I miss the small roads of Yarmuk, where all people respected and greeted each other. Syria is not part of me anymore, but I’m part of Syria. I miss the fields in the country, the sand, the trees, the water, the mountains and everything else.

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