“My feelings came all over me”

My name is Kamar and I come from Aleppo in Syria.

I lived in Aleppo for 17 years. I graduated from high school and then moved to Sweida, a city in southern Syria, because I was admitted to the university with a focus on decoration.

When I had finished my second year, my mother decided that we could flee from Syria. This because of the war or rather the revolution. My mother and dad decided we should go to Sweden. I called my mom one day and talked to her as I usually do, but all of a sudden she told me that they would sell the house. Then I understood that they were serious.

My siblings moved to me in Sweida. First my mother fled in December 2012. She fled across the ocean, with the help of a smuggler,. We are five children and I am the oldest. Everyone moved to me and I became a mother, sister, student, teacher and everything. My dad also moved, but it took a bit longer before he had moved all the furniture and sold the house. Then my mother got a residence permit in Sweden and decided to reunite the family. She sent a request to the Migration Board.

Actually, I did’nt want to leave my studies. I was on my last year and hade the possiblility to work in decoration, as I wanted. But I had to leave everything, I had no choice. The police came to my university, I was persecuted and they interrogated me several times. I had no choice to stay in Sweida and my parents had left. I had to leave the country.

We arrived in Turkey. We were interviewed at Ankara embassy after 1.5 years. After the interview, I was not approved because I was over 18 years old. Then my father and siblings traveled to Sweden. I took them to the airport and took good care of the family.

I stayed in Turkey for 1.5 years without being able to return, leave the country, study or work. I did not know what to do. After 1,5 years I called to Mom and told her to either fly on or I will return to Syria. I told her it did’nt matter what happened, I wanted to return to my studies, my classmates continue with my studies. Mom said I had to wait a little bit for her to send me some money, so I could go to Sweden.

Mom did’nt want me to travel through the ocean with a rubber boat. She herself had tried to travel through the sea five times. One of the times she and my brother Rami were almost drowning. After that she decided not to risk her son and sent him back to me in Sweida. Then she succeded.

I told my mother to take a regular boat from port to port. But I lied. Instead I went to Izmir and got in touch with a smuggler. I paid half of the sum it would have cost for a regular boat.

The rubber boat was three meters long and we were 25 people. The smugglers told us to throw away all our bags. But I didn’t want to, because my mom bought the bag for me during high school. The boat went out to sea and then it took in water. After a while the water reached the stomach. Then the rubber boat stopped and we started to drain the water with our hands and shoes. The boat stopped three times along the way.

One of the people in the boat had tried to flee five times. Suddenly he saw a light and shouted: police! The boat rolled over and everyone ended up in the ocean. Then my feelings came all over me. How could I not have told my mother? Imagine if I die now! I prayed to God: please don’t let me die! I have lied to mom. Last I talked to her every day before. I told you I was going tomorrow but the battery was over. After three hours in the ocean, the light approached and it turns out to be a fishing boat. They picked us up. We were lucky we were in the Greek part of the sea and not in the Turkish. The Greek ships came and picked us up.

When I came to Sweden, I started with SFI. In February, I had an interview with the Migration Board. In May, I got a residence permit. In Mars I had an exhibition and started learning the language. Then I was adopted at the Österlen Art School for Art and Design in Simrishamn. I graduated in two years.

I learned a lot during the education and developed my Swedish. I gained many new contacts and it helped me to choose the right way in the new country. During these two years I worked in a retirement home. School time was from 9-16 and then I worked from kl. 16-22 and weekends with people with Alzheimer’s. I learned to play the cello. Then I continued with Swedish at a distance course. I finished with Swedish 1 but not with the rest.

I finished my education and wanted to go to a university, but I still had Swedish and English left. So instead I searched for Malmö University of Applied Sciences. I studied “content producer”. I started last year and graduated on November 25th. As I am ambitious I found a course called “content manager”. I did’ nt want to lose that course as it complements my education. So I started studying two courses at the same time. I worked at the MAFF Malmö Arab Film Festival at the same time and I worked with them again this year. I also practiced in two departments on SVT, the children’s channel with a program called summer holidays, as a graphic assistant and on SVT design. Yes, things are happening!

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, Syria