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Fayez, 29 years old, from Raqqa, Syria

Part 1

“Europe is not what we expected”

My name is Fayez. I’m 29. I left Raqqa, my hometown in Syria, on March 16, 2016, and crossed Turkey to get on a boat destined to Greece. We were 67 people in the boat and the smuggler wanted me to drive the boat, but I refused because the sea was rough. I was afraid because there were children with us. The smuggler tried to force me but I didn’t give in. After a few failed attempts, he made someone else drive the boat. I was afraid for the kids. 

It was about 3 o’clock in the morning when we arrived on the island of Chios and went to the registration centre in the camp. The camp was like a prison. The situation was very bad. The first night, most of the refugees slept on the ground and the weather was very cold. Then they put us in containers full of people. After suffering for five months, they finally gave me asylum papers and I came to Athens to complete my papers.

I went to Katahaki, where they took my address and my phone number to contact me for the final interview, but I’ve been waiting for three months now and still no word. I started attending English classes to improve my English, find a job and continue my education. I graduated from university in Syria where I studied Math and now I live in an abandoned building in Exarcheia with more than 150 other refugees and the situation is very bad, but what to do?

Part 2

My family is in Syria: father, mother and 10 siblings (6 brothers and 4 sisters). Two of my sisters are married and have children and my brother is an English teacher in Syria. He is married but doesn’t have children yet. The others are students, aged 18, 16, 15, 12, 10 and 25.

I was a high school Math teacher. I loved my students and they loved me, but the war destroyed everything. They lost their dreams. Only memories remain. We want the war to stop and return to school and bring back the smile on their faces.

Life there stopped 3 years ago: no school, no electricity, no safety. The military and aircrafts bombed day and night under the pretext of fighting terrorism!!! But they are killing innocent people. The situation there is tragic. When I was in Syria, my dream was to travel to Europe to continue my education and find a job, get married and have a family, but I was surprised that life here is not as we expected. Since living in exile, we started thinking of returning to Syria. The situation there is better than here despite the war, fear, hunger and the siege.

Photo & Story by: Fayez / Contributed with help by: Ariela Moraru

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