“Since I was six years old I wanted to be a president. My father recently asked me how I could become a president if I don’t even have a country. Officially, I don’t even have a nationality – look at my ID! I’m a refugee everywhere. I grew up as a Palestinian refugee in the Yarmouck district of Damascus. My family moved from Palestine to Syria in 1948. Syria is a good country as far as it gives refugees the right to study and work. But you can never take a high position in a company and you cannot hold a public post. I hope that in Germany it will be better. I need to fix my situation first though in order to be in the position to be helping others. If I do something good for me then I can serve Palestine better. I’ve started feeling more and more comfortable with the German language and I want to start looking for a job. I want to be a manager in a company and eventually have my own company. I want to work in the IT sector or sell stocks. After I stabilise my situation, I want to go back to Palestine and help my people with whatever I can.
I left Syria with my mom a year ago. We had to leave my father, two sisters and younger brother behind because we didn’t have money for everybody. We flew to Turkey, then we took a boat to Greece. We went to the airport in Athens, from where we were planning to get to Germany. My aunt has been living in Germany for 40 years and sent her passport to my mom. They really look alike and that was a big opportunity for us. My cousin sent me his passport but our physical resemblance is not so strong. My mom passed the passport check at the airport but I was stopped for questioning. Against all odds, there was a German officer who checked my passport. He started talking German to me, I couldn’t understand anything. He started screaming at me and asking me how come I don’t speak German if I had a German passport. I got really scared, I thought he would send me straight back to Syria. Luckily, he just took the passport and told me to go back where I came from. I stayed for a few weeks in Athens and connected with some other people who were planning their journey to Germany. It was good few weeks, I felt like I had my life in my own hands and it was up to me to make it right.
The journey to Germany was one of the best things that has ever happened to me. Living and surviving in any kind of situation – sleeping in the mountains, on the train rails and on the streets, with very little food and water – has really strengthened my character. It was also the best people’s test ever. During that journey I could really distinguish between the good people, who would give me a hand when I most needed it, and the bad selfish people, who would put me in trouble just to save their asses. I understood that 90 percent of people are lying and nobody wants you to be better than them. Many times during the travel it happened that other groups told us to go a certain way just to use us as decoy and make it easier for themselves. At the same time, the journey strengthened my connection with my best friend. I saw that I could really rely on him, he always had my back.
A year ago getting from Greece to Germany wasn’t so easy. The smugglers’ infrastructure still wasn’t there and to move around costed much more. This year you could make it from Syria to Germany with about a thousand euros. Last year, you needed at least €7000. There were only a few of us refugees on the run and it was much easier for the police to stop us and throw us in jail. We crossed all of Macedonia and most of Serbia walking, there was no other way. In October it was very cold in the mountains where we needed to hide. But we made it, against all odds, and this gave me a feeling that I can overcome any obstacle in the world.
I arrived in Germany in November and found my mother. She was relieved to see me. Within a few weeks I was sent to a camp in Chemnitz for three months. After that I came back to Berlin. For half a year my mother and I were living off €100 per month, the rest of the money we sent to the rest of the family back in Syria. In March we applied for family reunification and were granted approval. In April the rest of the family arrived in Berlin. Mom was so relieved, she couldn’t stop crying when she saw them at the airport.”