Hussein’s Story, Greece

Photo by A. Spanaki/2014.

“My name is Hussein. Before the war in Syria, I had a normal life, living with my family. I was a university student and had many friends. My country and my life changed radically when the war broke out. I watched relatives and friends leave Syria while I and many others stayed behind, fearing for our lives every day. I didn’t want to leave my country. I heard stories about those who fled and how difficult their journey to Europe was. They didn’t know what to expect in other countries and how people would treat them. These thoughts scared me. I had heard stories about other Syrians who got lost or risked their life at sea on their way to find refuge in Europe. Women, children, and men on an overcrowded unseaworthy boat – on a journey of hope with an unknown destination and uncertain future.

But I knew, I didn’t have a choice. I had to leave and follow the same road. I cannot understand, not even today, how I got myself into this situation. Before leaving, I remember thinking that I might die on a boat on my way to Europe. But I refused to die. I convinced myself that I could make it through and reach Europe safe. Then I made a tattoo on my chest, I wrote ‘I refuse to sink’. I wanted to declare my perseverance and strong will to get through this journey, to be lucky.

And I made it. Along with twelve other Syrians we reached the island of Kalymnos. Deeply moved, I called my parents back home to tell them that I was all right, that I had crossed the sea and that I am alive and safe. We were welcomed by people on Kalymnos and hosted at the municipal cultural center. Soon, we were released and headed to Piraeus. But then I learned that the same day we managed to survive, some other Syrians perished off Izmir, in their effort to cross the sea to Greece. It was 16 April 2014. I lived; they died.”

1 family torn apart by war is too many

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