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Thaura Mustafa, 43 years old, from Salamia, Syria

Part 1

"When we first came to [a refugee camp in Greece], there was only cold water, we lived in tents and all people in camp shared a few showers where we also had to wash all our clothes.

It was hard times. My husband was already in Germany, he left Turkey before us while the borders where still open, so I was alone with my three children. They all had their own problems, to keep their spirits up being alone with them in camp was heavy. It was hard for my husband also, not to be able to help me. But at least we were able to talk over the phone to support each other.

We had left Damascus and my husbands tobacco shop already in 2015 to go to Salamia where I have my family. My son had to leave his psychology studies after only a year of studies. But we had to leave also Salamia when Daesh [ISIS] came. We fled to Turkey and stayed for a year. My elder boys got work there but in Turkey they didn't treat Syrians well, especially not young people."

Part 2

"When we got to Chios in Greece, the borders were closed, but we could still leave the island to mainland Greece and Ritsona.

Things are much better now in [the camp], we live in Isoboxes [converted shipping containers] and have communal kitchens. I just wish the kitchens would be closer to my Isobox. Now I cook a lot on my little stove outside my house instead. 

When we first came here, we only had the bad army food that we tried to make more tasty by adding spices and other ingredients. Now we can make the food ourselves and since we get the same vegetables and spices as in Syria, we can make the food we are used to, Kebbeh and Mahshe and other dishes.

My youngest son Hadis' favorite food is kebab with fried potatoes and kebbeh, preferably all at once!"

Part 3

"In October last year I joined the “Welcome Project” [at the camp]. We are weaving mats from blankets and life vests, it's a very good project. We do something during the days that is worthwhile and we earn money. I hope I could continue with the same kind of work when I get to Germany, but if not, then I could take Merkel’s place!

It's been almost two years now since we came to Greece. We are still waiting for the family reunification tickets to go to Hannover to my husband and my eldest son. My son is studying again and is also working in a restaurant. We can't wait to join them.

But if the war ends, and the government changes, I want to go back to Syria. To my parents and the beautiful landscapes of Salamia."

Photo & Story: I AM YOU.


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