I started to build my network

Manal Tahhan is originally from Damascus, Syria.

I escaped from Syria because my life was threatened there. Before, I lived outside of Damascus. The area was controlled by the army, so I escaped from there to Damascus with my three kids. After that I found a job in the ministry of justice. I worked there as a secretary. After three years from the war, I started to arrange my life in Damascus. It’s no problem. I sent my kids to school. After three years there was a treaty between the Assad-army and the other army, the Isis-army. Because of that, they allowed normal people to go back and check their houses. So after three years I went to check my house, and they arrested me there. I had not done anything. When I asked them why they had arrested me, they told me it was because they needed my sister’s husband, because he worked in parliament. “We need him.” After that, I start to cry. They needed him to record something against Assad. But I’m sure he would refuse. I don’t do anything to them. He told me, “maybe we can let you free if your sister comes.” Also I can’t bring my sister, because maybe they would arrest me and my sister, and I started to cry.

After three or four hours, I don’t know, because I was in a very bad situation. My neighbor we made an agreement together, because before I left my home, I gave him the key to my home. He entered (my home) with me, to check, and he helped me to escape from them. He asked his neighbors and their friends, they came with a car and weapons, and they started to fight with them, and they let me go. They put me outside an Assad-army checkpoint, and I go and start to cry. I asked them why they let people go inside the area. It’s dangerous. I told them what happened with me, and they put me in a car, and let me go to Damascus. So I went back to Damascus, but they took all my information from my mobile, and saw all the information about where I go and where I am working, and they started to connect with me. I refused to give them any information from my job. They started to threaten me. After that I escaped, because one day they had sent me the location of my new home, so I felt that I was in real danger. For that I escaped.

I escaped to Turkey. In Turkey I made an agreement with an agent. They took 6000 dollars, and I go in a small boat. We are 300 people in this small boat. After this we reached a big ship in the Mediterranean, where we found like 900 people. There was no place to sit or to do anything. There are a lot of kids crying. Two toilets for 900 people, and I don’t know what can I do?! We stayed five days in this ship until we reached Augustine, Italy. From Augustine we went by train to Milano. From there I took a train to Cologne in Germany. From there I went to Hamburg, and I went by bus to Copenhagen.
Then I started my journey here in Copenhagen. I went to the police station to give them my fingerprints. I told them “I am from Syria”. They sent me to Sandholm. From Sandholm they sent me to Helsingør asylum Camp. From Helsingør asylum camp I was sent to Avnstrup, to Roskilde and all of the camps.

Also I work with the Red Cross as a volunteer and translator and second-hand clothes to arrange and tidy them, and also in the café to make coffee or tea. After that, in Roskilde, I found my first real job. Also I work with an organization called Trampoline house. My life changed when I started going to Trampoline house, because they arranged my life. They helped me with everything, every detail. If I need anything, I asked them, and they told me “you can connect here etc.” I started to build my network.

I had to go to Copenhagen, because in the camp it’s like I’m isolated. I don’t know what I can do. Also I couldn’t learn Danish because they put us with other nationalities, but it is not Danish. I started to speak Kurdish, but not Danish. So maybe I lost a whole year of my life before I could start to get integrated.
After that I found real job in a factory in Høje Taastrup, which made solar panels. Then I found another job, which had a better salary. My network became bigger and bigger. I found job in UNICEF doing fundraising, and now I have my own business, my own project, my own company. It’s an ecological cleaning company. I bring all the things from Germany. This is for saving the environment, and also saving the health. There are no chemicals. Maybe next moth I will have a opening party for my new company, because we are in the process of designing the website and finishing everything, after six or seven months of starting my project.

I also work with an organization called Crossing Borders. They send me outside of the borders of Denmark, like to Germany, Sweden, Amsterdam and Istanbul. I am about to speak about my new project there, just to develop myself. To educate myself I, I stayed one month in Bornholm, where I made research about how I could save the environment, and from that I created this idea. They elected us as ambassadors of saving the environment, because I would like to do something. I feel like this is the first step to make this company. But that is not the end. The end is to make a factory.

Dublin Core: Language: en Subject: a million stories, denmark, syria, damascus, refugee,