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Abdullah, from Aleppo, Syria

"From the stone roads of Aleppo to the gravel paths of Ritsona, life is about waiting."

Part 1

"My home was in the center of Aleppo. Aleppo was a beautiful city before the war started. We used to live in the old town, close to the big Castle. The streets were made of old stones and were too narrow for cars to use. There was an old market close to our house; my brother sold electrical equipment there. It is gone now, I cry over it."

"I had to leave Syria because our government wanted me to join the army. They caused a lot of problems for us at the University where I studied. We wanted change, but the government didn't want us to have it. I studied pharmacology and had three more years left, but I had to leave."

"I left my family and my wife to go to Turkey. I worked in a restaurant washing dishes for three days but I couldn't take it, I cried when I got home and didn't go back. They didn't treat us well. After that I got work fixing trucks for cold transports. I worked there for half a year."

"I really thought I would only go to Turkey but because of the work situation there, I had to go onwards to Europe. I also wanted to continue my studies."

Part 2

"I came by boat to Mitilini, on the island of Lesvos, like so many others. I came in a small dingy with 55 people in it. We arrived at the end of February 2016 and then I made my way to mainland Greece. But then the borders closed in front of me.

I wouldn't have come if I had known this.

Before coming to Ritsona refugee camp, I lived in Adomini and Nikavala camps. We didn't even have tents in Nikavala, we slept on the stony ground. We had no water and no electricity and the food was terrible. I lived on only cheese for three months. All the time we thought we would be able to go next week. But every week there was another 'next week'.

There was a village one hour walk from the camp. The people in the village didn't like refugees. I think most people in Greece don't like refugees."

Part 3

"One year ago I came to Ritsona Refugee Camp. For the past four months I run the falafel shop here together with Mohamed.

It's different to work here making falafels than working in the restaurant in Turkey. Here the shop is my own and I have good people around me, nice customers and colleagues. I keep the place clean, like it would be my own home kitchen. But it's heavy work, I work 12-13 hours a day.

People from camp come in and ask for help about various things. About IOM, bus tickets, phone calls etc. I know a lot because I have been here for so long and I like to help. This falafel-shop is a meeting place.

My life is still about waiting. I wait for my relocation to Ireland. All the other relocation countries have finished their program but not Ireland. It takes so much time. So I wait. And when I get to Ireland it will take one more year to get my wife to come, so I will wait again.

I miss her so much. Her name is Lubaba."


Photo & Story: I AM YOU.

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