FAISAL (23) FROM JARABULUS / KOBANE
'In the Netherlands I hope that I will get the chance to show who I am and what I can do.'
Five years ago it was difficult to find work in Syria. That is why I, like many Syrians did, moved to Beirut temporarily where I was able to find a job in a restaurant. And so I travelled back and forth between the two counties.
From out of Lebanon I saw how the conflict in Syria slowly was getting further out of hand. Also the group I belong to, the Kurds, formed a group to protect themselves. Each time I crossed into Syria I was afraid that they would force me to join the Syrian army.
The situation around my family’s home in Jarabulus became so intense that I brought three of my brothers to Lebanon because I was afraid that they too would be called to reenlist. Another brother deserted and fled to Kurdish Iraq. Two and a half years ago I no longer dared to make to trip to Syria. And so it was that instead of being a migrant worker I suddenly became a refugee.
In Beirut my three brothers and I now share a small apartment for $500 a month. I work in a restaurant but unfortunately I don't have a legal status. In order to gain this you need someone from Lebanon to stand as a guarantor for you. That can be anyone, your employer or even your neighbour lady. But almost no one does this because they are afraid of being the guarantor from someone from IS or from the Syrian intelligence service. Without papers you have no right to health care or education.
In Syria my family fell apart even further. My sister, who lived with her family in Kobane, fled to Turkey following the attacks there by IS. My other two sisters had left for Turkey earlier. My father, mother, and the wife of my brother fled to the area surrounding Aleppo, to an area which is now completely under the control of IS. Now my mother and my brother’s wife are complexly veiled. My friends are also gone. Via my facebook account I see that they are in Sweden, elsewhere in Syria or in Iraq.
We gave our Facebook-friends the opportunity to be part of our conversations by posting questions. Faisal answers the question of American friends of the Dutch Roos: Is there anything you are grateful for? And if yes, what is it? (22 sec)
In Lebanon I met my Syrian girlfriend. She is one of the refugees who have been chosen by the Dutch government to come and live in the Netherlands. That only happens for a small amount of people per year and is very exceptional. For the past six months she has been living in Groningen and she says that it is beautiful there.
Just before she left we were married and we miss one another terribly. I would love to be able to live with her in Groningen so very much. All of the paperwork has now bent sent off with the exception of a copy from the family book of my family. That is with my parents in Syria and I cannot go there. I received a message that our request could take some time since there were so many requests coming in.
In the Netherlands I would be willing to do anything, because I am a hard-working person. Eventually I would like to be a fashion designer. I have made and sold many wedding dresses. I also like football and the Dutch national team the most of all. At the past World Cup I was for the Dutch at every match. From Syria I will only miss my parents; everything else we had is gone.
In our area on the border of Syria and Turkey we Kurds have always had a good relationship with the Christians. The relationship with the Sunnis was always a lot less. They swear at us because they think we do not pray enough. But my father always taught me from the time that I was very young that I could decide for myself whether and how often I wanted to pray each day. That was his way of teaching us what personal freedom is. And for that I am very grateful to him.
For me it is time to move on. Here my life has come to a standstill. I want to accomplish something with my life. I want to study even more. I want to be together with my wife, because I miss her every day. In the Netherlands I hope that I will get the chance to show who I am and what I can do.