She was only four months old when her father, mother and three brother left the house in the middle of the night. Her mother carried her into a car and they headed to the border with Turkey. At the border they left the car behind. Her brothers, father and mother walked. She was carried by her mother, closely to her mothers body she felt her heartbeat rising.
At the border they found a huge wall. There were others, they helped each other get over the wall. First the father, her three brothers were pushed up by strangers. On the other side someone else was catching the children when the father slowly let them fall down. She was still carried by her mother, who got warmer and warmer with each step she took.
On the other side of the border they made a run for it as the border is protected by Turkish soldiers, and they are not known for their hospitality and friendliness.
Staying in Turkey
For a couple of months she stayed in Turkey with her family. From city to city they travelled. Walked for hours, took a bus sometimes. Slept in a hotel once in a while and slowly made their way to the western Turkish coast.
Here they stayed in a house, they got one room and no beds. The parks were overcrowded but because they were a family someone made arrangements so they could stay in a house. There were other families in the house and her brothers soon played with other children. She was almost one and was crawling around the apartment. Mother and father tried to cope with the situation but were desperate.
It wasn’t safe here in Turkey. As the city was overflown with refugees the Turkish people were irritated. Refugees stayed in the parks, on the roads, in the hotels. They weren’t seen as people anymore, sometimes as filt but also as money. Many refugees paid for the trip to Lesvos, Samos or any other Greek island. They desperately want to go to Europe. This family as well.
Her father had lived in Germany for a while. Earning his money as a car mechanic. He was pretty good at it and even made it to manager of one of the garages. He spoke little German and thought with the money he earned he could get his family to Germany as well.
The boattrip to Lesvos, Greece
After a while her father and mother started buying stuff. Stuff like rubber lifejackets, armbands and blankets. Then one night, again, mother woke her up. She was now a little bit bigger but still not big enough to walk by herself. Her mother carried her again. This time not with a car, nor on foot, they would cross the border by boat.
At the beach the boat was ready. It was a tiny rubber one, not big enough for the amount of people who were going on it. But, when you are desperate you do things you wouldn’t otherwise do. Father went on the boat first, then her three brothers, and last her mother carrying her stepped aboard. Someone shouted in Turkish and pushed the boat from the shore. They were now on the water.
The sea was calm and she started to fall asleep again. Gently the boat rocked the children to sleep. The adults on the boat were holding on to each other, quiet and hopefull to reach Europe soon.
Then everything changed. The waves were getting bigger, people were holding on to each other more tight. Suddenly the waves were getting so big that lots of water got into the boat. It was cold and people were holding on to the boat tightly. Children woke up and started to cry. Everyone got scared because no one on the boat could swim.
Her mother asked herself why she got herself and her children in this danger? Was it really that bad in Syria? No, life was great. But, after her husband got tortured for 8 months by Assad there was no way they could live there anymore. Besides, the war had destroyed most of their hometown. But, was this the solution? Her husband had already been living in Germany, so it would be easy right?
They must’ve been halfway between Turkey and Greece now when the waves got so big the boat would almost capsize. Father was holding on to her brothers, he had them hold a rope. Her mother was holding on to the boat as much as she could. But suddenly a big wave surprised them. She fell in the water, still on her mothers back. Mother couldn’t swim and couldn’t keep her head above the waves. They were gasping for air. It was so dark they couldn’t see anything. Suddenly a strong arm got mother. It was father. He got them back onto the boat.
It took them five hours to reach the Greek coast. She was very cold, together with mother. Almost freezing. The blankets weren’t helping.
Welcome to Moria refugee camp
Finally they were on soil ground again. Father fell to the ground, thanking Allah for getting them savely into Europe. Mother didn’t kneel, mother didn’t thank Allah. Mother was holding her children tightly. They made it to Greece, now everything was going to be better. They would soon travel to Germany and start a life there. Mother has family there and father had a job there. It would be better than home, it would be perfect.
The Greek authorities welcomed the family to Greece with asking them to move to the tents up the hill. Here they got some drinks and food, and in the case of mother she got some dry clothing. Mother was still carrying her on her back. She wouldn’t leave her sight.
After a while they were taken to another place in a truck. It was called Moria. At the gate they were told by a police officer to get their stuff and find a place somewhere to built their tent. They will be staying for a while, he said. Mother didn’t know what a while would be, neither did father. Immediately after finding a place with other Syrian families and building a ‘home’, father started the request for asylum. He went to the office, told them the story – into detail -. About how he was tortured for weeks, how they broke his leg, burned his feet. How he was living day in day out with barely something to eat, something to drink, in total darkness.
They thanked him and told him they will get back to him.
Life as a refugee in Moria refugee camp
So here they were, living in a tent in Moria. She was just a little girl, not really knowing what was going on. She and her three brothers made friends easily. With Syrians though, the Afghani’s weren’t really nice. They even treated her biggest brother when they saw him eating a lolly.
She doesn’t get it, she doesn’t even know this isn’t how other families live. For her, this is Europe, this is how people live in Europe. Even though she hears her parents talk about their problems. There is no privacy, no place for her parents to talk alone. She hears everything, but she doesn’t get it. She is too young. Already 1.5 years though. She only knows life being on the run. For what? She doesn’t know. Why? She doesn’t know either.
Since a couple of weeks a snake is living under the tent. She is afraid at night, doesn’t sleep very well. Her mother says she is going to be okay, they are going to be fine and they will move to Germany soon. She doesn’t know what Germany is but it feels like a good place. A little bit colder though. Well, that’s what her father says when he tells her about Germany.
During the day father is often gone, he is waiting in the food line. They don’t get much. Not enough to get a full belly. Neither do they have enough water. But, she gets used to it. Mother is always near the tent, making sure that her brothers don’t get into trouble. She often plays with her friends who live next door. Jude is the same age and her best friend here.
The tragic fire that destroyed Moria refugee camp
They were living in Moria refugeecamp for 10 months when her father and mother woke her up in the middle of the night. She is two and this is the third time she wakes up at night to hit the road and find somewhere safe. She is two and already experienced so much more than many old people elsewhere in the world.
This night father and mother were quickly grabbing stuff, woke their children and ran out. She was on the back of her mother again. Again she felt her mothers heartbeat going up, sweat on her back and loud grasps for breath. The fire was spreading and smoke was everywhere. She was breathing but couldn’t get any air. Father was shouting, holding her brothers, mother was running behind. They went through the fire and onto the road. Thousands of people were there as well when they started walking towards Moria town. Where would they go now? What was going to happen?
After a long night of walking she was stranded on the road with her father, mother and three brothers. They slept on the road, exhausted. Mother said they would go to Mytilini but they never made it. The police was blocking the road, so they couldn’t pass. In the meantime her youngest sister (three weeks old) was having a hard time. Since there was no clean water, it is hard for children, but even more so for a baby.
Life after the fire
After almost 10 days living on the streets they had to make it into the new camp. A camp built by the military, ready for 5.000 people. The tents are built on military ground and not suitable for winter weather. They are too close to one another and besides toilets there are no facilities. 12 people will fit in one tent, they say. But father and mother have no idea with whom they will share a tent. People are afraid, scared that this will be a prison, that there will be no way out. That their asylum request will be annulled. She is only two and has no idea what is going to happen, when she will finally be welcomed in Germany.