[i] Hello Mrs. [name].

[r] Hello sister [name]. Welcome.

[i] I welcome you here in our association “Humanitarian Solidarity.” Middle East”. I am [name], the 1st board member who conducts the dialogue with you, today in the program [project] Oral History in Europe [Specially Unknown]. Especially from Bochum in Germany, we are today the sixth, January 6, 2019, we would like to start our interview with you. Please introduce yourself at the beginning.

I am [name], of Palestinian origin, but I was born in Syria. I have lived in Syria, got married and born my four children in Syria. We were forced by the war to leave Syria.

[i] We will address the issue and talk about it. About your life step by step, but we want to start with: What have you brought us today, a memory or? I see a book in front of me.

[r] Yes.

[i] Tell us [about it].

Yes, I brought a memory from Syria, the Holy Quran. The Koran is the dearest thing I have. Alhamdulillah.

[i] Hallelujah, Alhamdulillah.

When I read it, I feel better and rejoice.

[i] Alhamdulillah.

It is, Hallelujah, the Book of God.

[i] What does this book remind you of?

This reminds me of Syria, of days [in Syria?]. My family, everything.

Is this the book you always had [with] in your homeland?

[r] Yes. This is my book that belonged to me in Syria. I have often read it.

[i] Yes you can’t without?

[r] Never.

Should we need it one day? Can you lend it to us, we would exhibit it for a week or two?

[r] Yes.

[i] Is that possible?

Yes that is possible for a short time. But you have to give it back to me.

Sure, I am happy today that you are with us today with your conversation, that you have opened your heart to us, you want to tell us about you and your life, tell me something about you, about your childhood. Where were you born?

I was born in Syria.

[i] Your parents too?

My mother was born in Syria. But my father went with my grandfather to Palestine [Palestine?] during the war. In 1948 they emigrated from Palestine to Syria.

[i] Yes.

[r] Yes. My father was ten years old when he left Palestine, he always tells us about those days how he left.

[i] Oh.

And how was the war gone when the groups left? […] How tired they were until they established themselves in Syria and came back, and my father learned [something]. Thank God he was a teacher in Syria.

Is your father an academic?

Yes, and my mom is also educated. She likes to read very much, hamdulillah. I grew up, I had four brothers and sisters. We girls came first, then the boys, three boys. The father, God extends his life, my Lord, he never made a difference between a girl or a boy, all are with him. He even said, “I love you more”. He loves the girls. Because they are dear, Subhanallah. He raised us hamdulallah very well, we grew. We got married, we always had a strong relationship with our parents. Always in Syria, the first place. [?] When we are tired, [it] is the family flat, mother’s flat. [?] Father’s apartment, the lap, Subhanallah the Great. [?]

[i] Tell us, do you have contact with your parents?

In any case, every day. I talk to my parents on the phone sometimes when I am busy. If I haven’t spoken to them for two or three days, I get untidy, eh? We talk to each other, I miss going there.

[i] With your siblings or with your father?

With my father and siblings. And my mother.

[i] Your mother is still alive?

[r] Yes.

[i] God should let her live for a long time.

[r] Amin. I’m sure I have a relationship with my sister, we always talk on the phone. And my brother, I can’t see her for seven years. I haven’t seen my father and mother.

[i] Yes?

Not at all. And it is not in my hands that I can see them.

[i] Yes.

But that’s the thing that makes me very sad. My parents live and can’t see them. The war.

[i] Yes.

The war, Hamdullah. If God wants that, I hope forwards [for the future?] that I [see them again?][?].

[i] I hope [it] very much.

The situation is getting better and I can see it.

[i] Your family at home, you can’t see them? But the family you brought with you?

Yes, of course, Hamdullah Rab Alalamin. After a long period of suffering, my husband and my children, Hamdullah, could be together again after we had been apart for some time. Together like thousands of Syrian families that were apart. Thank God. We are lucky, we are together again.

[i] Bringing them together.

Thank God and everyone is fine.

I want to go back to Syria and talk about the subject. Where you grew up, you lived in a family. Educated, academic, Daddy was a teacher and the mother likes to read, you have sisters and brothers, a happy family.


[i] Tell us something about your youth, have you learned [something]?

[r] Yes, Hamdellah. I’ve been in UNRWA from first grade to sixth grade, those are schools for the Palestinian organization. In Syria after the ninth [grade] I am transferred to the secondary school, the scientific branch.

[i] Yes.

[r] I graduated from high school. After that [I] spent a year at BTC College. Electronics, I passed [it] to the second level when I got married. I was pregnant, I couldn’t attend the second year. Yes, I dropped out of education. But I had my four children. I noticed that everything was fine, I went on. We were in the Daraa Islamic Institute, I studied there for six years. Islamic, Hamdulillah.

[i] Yes. You are a married woman and you have four children, did you choose your husband? Out of love or were you forced to marry?

[r] No, no.

[i] Because [this is the case] with us in the Arab countries. We have a different culture and different traditions.

Yes, no to our family and to those I know. There is no compulsion to marry because it is our Islamic religion. The religion of Hanif allows the woman to agree or disagree. I married a traditional marriage, [then] the family comes. From the kinship those who see the girl and marry. Thank God we got to know each other and there was the consent and the wedding.

[i] Yes.

[r] Traditional marriage.

[i] Was your life difficult, did you start a family?

[r] Yes, of course. You will find the difficulties. They disappear when there’s a family life, when there’s respect, when there’s love, when there’s parents. The difficulties go, there are the sisters who always support that and the parents and the husband, thank God my husband. He is very nice, kind and understanding, hamdulillah Rab el Alamin. My marriage was successful.

You have led a happy life. Until the war came.

[r] Yes, yes. But when the war came. The first year, the war started with us in Daraa.

[i] In what year?

[r] 2011 in the third month on March 18, 2011 the war started with us. It started in our city, in Daraa, in front of the other provinces in Syria. It was a tragic situation for us. My children were in the university. My two adult children, my daughter and my son. Both were at Sweda University. They had to leave. The return [the way back?] from university is very difficult, they had risked going there. They got on buses and public transport, but the situation was dangerous. Very very dangerous.

[i] Bombing or kidnapping? [Recording pause – someone came and distracted us]

[i] Yes, woman [name], we continue our conversation, you had told [about] your two grown children. If they went to university, was it a big danger? You were afraid, let’s go into this subject.

Maybe it’s only when you remember the war that you’re being held against your will. I’m stuck now and the words don’t help me and don’t express that. My feelings, war is destruction. There is no security. Kidnapping, killing, arrest. Your son goes out. You cannot know whether he will come back or not. What time? You have to reckon that your son is dead, bombing. Your husband won’t come back, nobody knows [anything], you can’t even ask where they are. There isn’t, everything with us was terrible. Very very terrible, that’s war. I can’t imagine a person can understand the word “war” until he has experienced it. I imagine the old Germans who experienced the war and the annihilation.

[i] Yes.

They can understand us, us Syrians who left the country. This atmosphere, we didn’t flee because of poverty or because we didn’t flee anything. We only fled to protect ourselves, our lives and our children from death. It’s not easy that you make the decision and leave. Where are you going? To the unknown. Smuggling and meeting cheaters, smugglers, you experience anxious things, you go. In horror places, forests. Rivers only so that you can flee, from the air, from the war. If you save your family, you better live. [?] The most important thing you are looking for is just security. You seek security so that you can live with your family, like hundreds of others. Thousands of Syrian families who fled the war. Sometimes we are asked, In Syria you have on the camel. [“Do you have in Syria on the camel ___?”] “Do you have a culture?” Something like that? I find it strange. There is culture in Syria. Culture, who knows the Syrian culture and the life in Syria, [it] is more beautiful than here. There is a great culture in Syria, a great civilization in science. There is education and and and and. There is a beautiful life. There is a beautiful life, there are relatives, there are people. There are the parents. I guess if you lived there you would never leave the country and look for something else. In another country, I always said if have about. [?] What we experience here we had there, don’t think we are here, no on the contrary. [?] We have civilization and more from here.

[i] Syria is known for its culture and tradition. The old civilization of its population. From the beautiful programs. What is special for [the] family, entertainment programs. A country where [there] are castles, where development happens. Education and research.

[r] Yes.

[i] There are places of interest, holy places.

Yes, we have Roman ruins. In Daraa [there] is the international Basraa, a world theatre. There are ruins from thousands of years ago. Yes, as I told you, the decision to go from Syria is not easy, never, either life or death. There was nothing else, either dying or living.

[i] How did he start the war?

He started with us. [thinks about it] In. Fire, killing. Sometimes you couldn’t leave the house, what should I tell you? About the intensity of destruction when they want to buy basic works [things?], the necessary ones [?] You go as fast as you can, you find the things, you don’t find them. What should I tell, destruction? [She] started so fast. Fast destruction. Here you see a funeral there. Murder. He was shot here. War with us is war with all the meaning of the word. Destruction, murder. There is nothing worse, nothing that can express that. For me, the word war is the worst word in the whole world. Because it includes all despair, goodbye. Families have missed their children, their daughter, the head of the family. Their apartment.

Has everything become more expensive?

Forced by necessity, everything becomes more expensive. Not only is it more expensive if [primary things] existed at all. Especially in winter, when you need gas or something to warm you up. Getting that was almost a miracle. When you get a gas bottle or something else. The situation was very difficult if you want to buy bread. There were many people standing in line, happening explosions. No bread and the man, that happened a lot [often?] with us, that was [r] problem with us. Buying bread, Basic at home. He probably leaves and never comes back.

Was the situation that bad?

Very bad.

The decision, how did you make the decision? Was that your decision or [r] family decision, how did it happen?

The first thing I thought was that the circumstances would get better. We have to be patient, we stayed like this for two years, we have to be patient, it became more and more. Worse, our situation [got] worse. We decided to go to Lebanon temporarily. When things get better, we will return to Syria, home to our [ou[r] lives. Only four or five months. When it gets quiet we return. We have gone and [we have] never returned, I have made the decision with my husband. We discussed it, even with my children, honestly [it] didn’t need that. There wasn’t much to think about anymore, you have to go. No matter when, something happens spontaneously or the children get hit. The man is gone, he doesn’t come anymore. That was the problem of thousands of people. There is not, we are not safe and we talk, no. We want to go, you just wanted to. Fleeing from this air.

[i] How did you organize the trip? We drove our car to Lebanon, took what we could, you know, not so much fits, the clothes. We took the most important thing with us, the papers. We went to Lebanon, we stayed there for a year and a half? In Lebanon the situation was bad for the Syrian refugees.

[i] Yes.

Yes the situation in Lebanon was bad. Very bad.

[i] Very much.

[r] Of course.

[i] We had heard [that] before. We’ve heard about it.

[r] Of course she [the situation] was. That wasn’t merciful. Nobody felt for us what happened to people. We were threatened to leave at any time. You couldn’t stay there, you had to think of something better. In Lebanon you either have a stay or they don’t give you a stay. You have to think of something to save yourself. In Lebanon [it] was absolutely impossible to stay and live. Anyway, the [situation?] is devastating, its inhabitants themselves need help. They can’t cope. We have decided that I will leave. With two children and my daughter, my husband is sick. I left him there with my old [older?] son. That should be a simple thing. My husband will follow me in a month or two. This thing had lasted two years, two years full of fear of suffering, full of pain. Afraid of being lost, you don’t know [it]. There is nothing difficult, you have gone with your family. [?] You are lost, you are at the mercy of the smugglers. People who are not afraid of God, people who have no soul. They’re not honest, their only concern is human trafficking? We didn’t know that when we left, we thought [it] was a simple one. Thing, people fleeing when we arrived the situation was very very dramatic. To be honest.

[i] Sad.

[r] Disaster. The kind of smuggling is catastrophic, you face death. Lost, nothing that can save you, no security. Nothing can save you from their hands, you have to run with the [those?] who run. [?]

[i] How much did you pay for the journey? Wallahi, we paid. A lot. We paid a lot, more than twenty. A thousand euros and more, of course. We’ve been kidded, the problem is, we’ve trusted [them]. Someone we trusted I can help you it’s an easy way. […] [We trusted someone who said, “I can help you, it’s an easy way.]] There is no simpler way for my husband to send us first. [?] He was a fraud, he should take care of us there, he took the money. He didn’t ask about us anymore, we were in a country. Without security, without money, my husband is sick. He is in Lebanon. I left for him so that I could make a family reunion so that he could be treated. [?] We thought exactly Germany was better than other [countries?] because of the treatment. [?] Because of his situation, yes, we left. From Lebanon.

[i] To which country?

We are back from Lebanon. On the same day we returned to Syria. From Syria to the north, that’s the smuggling route. About 24 hours by bus until we reach Northern Syria, checkpoints. We are through horror places, cities even from the IS. The situation was. [?] You think, no idea whether we arrive or not. [?] We reached a place in Northern Syria and there we went on to Turkey, the way was very difficult. We went down into a ditch with the children, we ran, bullets were fired. There were the smugglers.

[i] In Turkey.

On the border before we arrived in Turkey, these smugglers. Between Syria and Turkey, you can’t believe it. When we reached Turkey our blood was dry in our bodies. Not only that, we were almost dead from the road until we reached Turkey. Never, sometimes I think about it if I knew it was so, my husband tells me too. If I knew [that], [I] wouldn’t have sent you such a risk, you’re leaving a war. If you go to an [unknown] [you go into the unknown?], which is much harder, the way was more exhausting than the war. Your feeling was horror, you flee. We arrived in Turkey. We stayed there for three months. Behind us was a long way to Turkey. It starts on the way, we thought we’d start now with the easy way, now we’re in Turkey. We started with the most difficult route, the smuggling [escape] route ashore. To try it on the sea [is one thing], to try it on the road [is another thing], another thing. We’ve had many, many difficult experiences. The smugglers take us to a meeting place. We go there, they put us in a bus, what can I say, you can’t move your feet in that bus. You stay in your place, can’t move, very very narrow, you can hardly breathe. The bus goes in Turkey about 15 hours, you can not leave this bus, 15 hours and your children sitting next to you, they are tired and next to you. In the end the smugglers brought us into a forest and ran away. They felt that the Turkish Janderma [police] was coming into the forest. The forest itself is black, you see nothing, horror. Yes, until we could leave this forest. And again from the front, second attempt. They told us, “You can take the road from Anderia to Athens.” “But you have to walk ten hours.” We walked with smugglers who don’t know Allah. Each of them was a human trafficker. Never anything else, this way is the way of death, that’s what I call it. They took us to a place where you walk among lawns and thorns. Between the valleys, up and down. At the end there is a lake, they all throw in so that they can cross over. The whole thing just so they can get the money and run away. Then you try [it] again, and when we reach the country from Greek territory, the police arrest us. We get arrested so they can send us back. They let us into this prison, such a bad life. Mixed men and women, with the garbage, dirt, mattresses. All dirty and filthy in a small room, the people above each other. A toilet, you can’t go in there. They do that especially to humiliate you. So that you don’t try any more, you go back. Then they’ll throw you into Turkey. We made three attempts in the [an?] country. Then we should try at sea. It took us about fifteen hours [from Turkey to Izmi[r]. In buses we are in Izmir. [?] [drove to Izmir?] The next day there’s a try in the lake, be ready. [?] I swear the smuggler said, “Ten minutes will do”, then you will arrive. You don’t even need a jacket, you don’t need it.” Deceiver, let Allah punish him so. We’re in the lake. [?] [On the sea?] In the Balam middle of the night all over each other my youngest son was 12 years old. [?] [Balam?] He was at the beginning of Balam and I was at the end I was the last. [?] My son on one side, my daughter on the other and my little one at the end of Balam. [?] He cries and asks, “Mommy, are you all right?” He often asked, we were at sea. We sink into it, we came to a point in the sea, to the regional water points [national waters?] [?] We were neither in the Turkish nor in the Greek regions. We alerted the emergency rescue, the boat stopped in the sea and the waves. You find the waves that hit you, all black. You see nothing. We call. The Greeks say, “We have nothing to do with it. “Watch this, you should go back.” The important thing is after the [?] We were very tired in the sea, there was [it] about three o’clock in the morning. The water goes into the boat, we were, our things, we threw them, we tried to get the water out of the boat with our shoes. The water was about, about, almost full, the waves around you, your son is ready, mama you’re good [are you all right?], mama, we’re going to die. Yes, thank God and afterwards, by chance. We whistled with pipes even though there was nothing there. The sea was black and [there were] heavy waves. We whistled and whistled. There was a Russian ferry, oil tankers, where even passengers aren’t inside. Maybe ten or twelve are in it, all busy. By chance [one] came from above, he wanted to smoke. He saw us coming so close [?] to the big ship propellers. I remember that we saw the huge ship propellers. A giant ship, clover ship. For oil, petrol or the like. He had made a phone call in the ship, then thank God he stopped. She stopped. He wanted us to get away from it. Because everything around the ship was [full] of water and waves. He was afraid that we would sink. More and more, important is Hamdullellah. They’d seen us, they’d hanged us down the rescue ropes. Now when they gave us the ropes, the men climbed up. They lift their hands until they reach the ladder and ascend. We women, all people, have climbed up, I remained alone with my daughter until the end. My daughter said, “Mama, you go first”. I said, “No, I can swim, you can’t”. We tried and tried how to reach the rope and climb. [?] And the ship is very high, about four or five floors, really high. It takes you a long time to get to the edge. In the end they brought us down a rope. They did it like a swing. And they brought us up one by one. We were on this ship for two days and they brought us back to Izmir. After such a fear, such a restlessness we returned to Turkey. If we had done nothing. The smuggler came. He said, “The day after tomorrow there will be an attempt. Our clothes were still salty. Two days we finished our papers at the Janderma [police]. We went back to the hotel, still in salty clothes he called, “Tomorrow you can go.” My children cried. They told me, “Mama, we don’t want to go any further. “We’ve seen enough death.” I promised them that if it doesn’t work after this attempt, we won’t go any more, [it] is enough, we’ll stay. Of course I have a very great suffering, I will go into the unknown. Two days ago we drowned [almost?]. […] I thought of my sick husband who has to go to Germany for treatment. I thought about it, if we stay in Turkey, who should help us, [who?] supports us? My children are still young, [they] can’t go to work yet. We can’t live, we want to reach a point where security is. Where can we live, I said the last day, enough, tomorrow. If it works [that] is good, if not, I swear we won’t try it anymore, that’s a promise from me. On the other hand, the money we had, he took it. There’s very little left so that we can have it under control. I was convinced that day, a decision. There was nothing in my head, either we die or we live. The situation is like this, finished, live or die. The second day we tried [it]. The smuggler had brought us from Izmir to Bodrum for about six hours and said, “Wait there until.” “Midnight.” The smugglers took us into vehicles. [?] Until we reach this point where they start. First we sat in the boat, it turns twice. The engine broke, La Hawalla wala Kuwata illa Billah. [?] From the beginning is like this, the smugglers, if you are in such places. [?] You can’t decide [it]. Yes, no, you only do what the smugglers want. You don’t have an opinion, they’ll kill you. Or he’ll take a child away from you. They told her, “Stay here, we want to get a new machine.” For the Balm [boat] we waited three hours until they came. They installed the new engine and told us, “Get in.” You know well. [?] [Already?] That was the end of October, that was so, so cold. When you go in the Balm, you have to go into the water first. A few meters, then you can go in, cold and afraid. With the stranger!!! We drove with it. [?]

[i] You with your children.

Of course, always with [them] until we reach Greece. With my children, we are in the Balm. When he was driving, the smuggler asks, “Where have you arrived? We said, “Yes, we’ll be there soon.” We saw a country, we went back in the opposite direction. Back to Turkey. He said, “I see you, go to the other side.” There is no god but Allah. We went further into the sea. About two hours. Spontaneously we see the headlights of the Greek police. Above our heads and the headlights above us, we waited. We asked them for help and said, “Please don’t hit, don’t throw”. They had taken us with them and brought us to Athens by boat. To an island from the Greek islands. We found this strange, how spontaneous the Greeks are above our heads, and the headlights, projectors around us, although everything was black, no noises. The mobile phones, everything off. Turns out they were looking for someone who had drowned and they found us on the way. […] Three boys were in a balm, [they] hit a ship. Two could swim and one couldn’t, those who could swim arrived and informed the Greek police who were looking for this man. The man is dead, yes, wallah, [he?] drowned. When we arrived in Greece, on the second day, his friends picked him up. Their friends took him. [They were] crying, we asked, “What’s going on?” – Our friend is dead. Drowned in the water. Only child, his parents [come] from Sham.” Finally we arrived in Greece. There began a new phase of suffering and agony. We arrived in Greece, the police brought us to a place, in November, so cold. Like a place, closed from the outside and inside [like] a yard. In this yard they threw mattresses and blankets for the people. Doesn’t look like it. We stay outside for five days, we slept outside. In the yard, in the cold. There were women who had small children. There was a woman who cried with her baby who was two months old. She said, “My baby is sick, he is cold.” “It’s sick.” They had had no mercy on her, everyone slept outside. In the yard, until they finished our papers. And they said, “Tomorrow a ship will come, so you can go on” “to Athens”. We went in the ship. About twelve hours until we reached Athens. When we arrived, the next stage of agony [began]. Second smuggling route. [Break] We arrived in Athens. According to the smuggler, “You can be in Germany in two weeks,” “and you’re doing a family reunion with your husband.” He was a fraud. He took the rest of the money and said, “I can’t do anything for you”. I was despised [despised? Fooled?] and my colleagues spent me [despised? Fooled?], I have nothing. Oh, we said, “What about the money we transferred to you?” He said, “I have nothing to do with it. Okay. We were in Greece and Greeks don’t help the refugees. You can enter their country, but you have to take care of yourself. What should we do, we think, what can we do? My children and I, that was important. In Greece there was a strike, we were there. Yes, we stayed there for about a month. So that the European countries help us the refugees who are in Greece and cannot go. […] What is important is that we have [were] in Greece about the first three months and life was very very difficult. What are we supposed to do, we have to get along. We have to do something, my worries were my children and my sick husband. After that we decided that I would go to Germany illegally because we couldn’t all go. Imaginary amount, unimaginable sums of money and me, then the family reunion. For them and my husband.

Yes, Mrs. [name], we continue. We had landed in Greece.

We had arrived in Greece. In safety, we were so happy that we reached Greece. First of all we got rid of the attempts. The attempts [to go over?] land and sea, we were done with that. And we hoped that we could just come to Germany. Just like other thousands who were waiting. It was a very, very difficult experience in Greece. For security, but as you know there was no support for the refugees. You have to be on your own to survive. You should get along on your own. We arrived in Greece at the beginning of November. At the beginning of November we arrived in Greece and now a new torture is beginning for me and my children. In Greece I had to part with my children. And I had to flee on my own so that I could reunite them with my family. For my husband who is still in Lebanon. This step was not at all easy, never. I remember the same day I started this attempt, I had tried it before. My daughter had tried to leave. Didn’t work, I told myself I’d try [it] myself, maybe it’ll work. I [can] remember that I am with my younger son, and are very connected. [?] He always sleeps next to me on this journey. No matter where, he sleeps next to me. We lay in bed like this. He told me, “Mama, you’re going to Germany today” and left me.” I replied: “Allah we alam [God knows]. I don’t know. He said, “You got a shot.” I didn’t want to tell him I was leaving, I suspected it wouldn’t work because people make seven or eight attempts with it before they leave. I know one, she had tried it twenty times and it didn’t work. I pressed him from the heart and kissed him. He went to play. I prepared myself and drove to the airport. Yes, Wallah.

[i] You came by plane?

I came by plane from Athens airport. To Germany via Italy, airport. In Rome we stayed about six hours, yes. Subhan Allah, everything went well. I got on the plane, I didn’t believe that the plane flew. My only worry in this world was that I would make progress because of my family, the grief is not important. You forget yourself, you don’t think about yourself anymore, not at all. I am a woman who did not think of herself. My worries were only my children. Like their situation and the situation of my husband. This agony as I bring her here. I swear when I arrived in Germany. I got off in Frankfurt, they left me there. They had given me from one camp to another. A person in charge there, I had told her that my children were there in Greece. I need someone to help me get them. She recommended a club to me. She told me, “Let your children go there, to this association. [?] In a few months, six to seven months, we can get them.” When she told me six to seven months I fainted. My children stay six to seven months away from me. That’s not easy and more than ten months until I took them. There my sons and daughters went to this organization. They said to them, “You must wait until it is your turn”. Long process with the papers. The promises, they applied for their papers. One by one, my little son. The lawyer who was responsible for us, each one gets his promise separately. I have a promise for my son, then the daughter. Two or three months [have passed] between one boy and the other. The other one, I don’t know if he gets permission. When I came here, I talked to a club. They said, “Your son, who is 17 years old,” He was 17 my son Abdel-Kader, “we can’t get him. We can only fetch the little ones, your daughter and your son. “They will stay there, they live there and you live here.” When I heard that they live there and I live here, I get a nervous breakdown. Anyway, my husband is ill and operated. There is nothing more difficult than an operation in Lebanon. I am, I have experienced days when I was not religious and close to God, and God strengthens me, then I would have had a nervous breakdown. Especially when I arrive at the person in charge and I am very tired. In an organization or something, he said, “I’m sorry, we can get the younger one.” The others stay there, in Greece, where they stay alone. We are a family, some here and some there. I have fought for so long, not given up. I have done a lot for it, thank God, my children are coming. Thank God at the end of 2015, in December. Thank God my children have come.

[i] Pusste [?]

[r] [When] they were in Greece, a joy. Nothing more beautiful, you are reunited with your children. Thank God. I remember when he called us from Lebanon. He said, “Now I can sleep at night”. “Now I can sleep calmly, the children are with you. It is not easy. I picked them up from Berlin. The children.

Did all three of them come?

All three came, thank God, through the police. About an organization, by plane. From Athens and I received them here in Berlin. Yes, I [went] to Berlin and picked her up. I came to Bochum.

[i] Why [to] Bochum, especially Bochum?

[r] Ähhh.

[i] How did you get to Bochum?

[r] I was in a city Sultat [?] before I came to Bochum. I was about eight. Months there, but I was alone, I know that. There were people, but I was very psychologically strained. I just wanted to communicate with someone I knew who was close to me. Here in Bochum is my relative. She told me, “Come to me until you find an apartment.” She helped me a lot, God should make her happy. Eh wallah, I was with her for two months. I moved here from Sultau [?], I had a nice stay. When I arrived in Bochum, the new suffering began. I now have to present the papers for the family reunion with my husband, and that alone. A story, this is a war of nerves, you burn your nerves. One day, two days, one day [these papers] are not there. If one day is missing, they tell you, “You should get those papers.” “Where should we get the papers?” – “From Syria.” – “Syria is destroyed, Syria is at war.” Our eyes fly out until we get and authenticate the papers, that is alone, that was the greatest suffering for me to get [and authenticate] the papers so that we could work with them. My husband is really [?], he could do his best, he was poor. Even though he is sick and tired [he] goes alone to Syria and does the paperwork. Although it’s dangerous, but he had to get the papers. We brought them, like the marriage certificate. All the papers until we got them and [I] applied for them. After the entry, they told me, “You should wait six months so we can get him.” He’s sick, operated and waiting since I left him. Until he came two years [have passed], two years is a life, waiting. [?] You wait one day at a time to see who experiences this. This waiting is different from seeing you from afar, he doesn’t know what you expect. What you feel, you fight in this world, you run and run. Only so that you may unite your family, so that you may live in safety. Healthy life in safety, the most important thing is safety. Without war, that is what it is. My children have come to Bochum. I had an apartment for one person, thank God. They came to me, we lived in it. Of course you, Sister Zoubeida, you never got short with me [I never got short with you?] Be it with furniture or many other things. You helped me a lot and supported [me]. You have to mention that. What I needed, them personally and their organization, they never missed out [with them we never missed out?] Allah should only give you the best in life.

[i] Thank you. That’s our duty.

[r] Allah yesalmik, I have put the apartment in order. My apartment was for one person, we furnished and finished it, my children are thank God with me. We lived. Now the speech agony [begins], the speech when you came. You get mail from the job center and I want to translate that, I go, there, there, there and have an appointment, what’s in it, I need someone to come with me. I’m so, very precise, very precise in my appointments, I like [it] not to be late. I don’t neglect [it]. Punctually, as they say here.

[i] Yes.

I was very tired when it came to papers.

[i] On time.

The papers finished me off, I get papers, what does it say? I was looking for someone to translate, he’s not there. I run there, search Facebook for who translates. Or that they translate these papers for me, I go to the job center. [?] I speak in English. They didn’t agree, they told me, “Only German. Either you talk German with us or [you] get an interpreter.”

[i] Yes, that was very [?], too.

[r] A point that made everything difficult for me. The subject of papers was a great worry to me. Very very big to translate the papers.

Did you pay money to translate the papers?

[r] Of course. All the refugees who are here have paid money to translate [the papers] so that we know why these papers [come]. What should we do and what should we take with us? What do [we] do and when we have an appointment, where do you get someone to the appointment from, [that] is very important. After my children came, I enrolled in a language course. Thank God I reached level B1, I learned. A1, A2, B1. But I had a problem with the language. What I hear I can’t understand. When someone speaks German to me, I stand through the wall. I want, I need some time until I get it. Yes, that’s what he means and [she] is not easy, that’s not our language. I’m not young, like the young people who quickly understand the language or something. Even contact with Germans is very little. The environment in which I speak the language is also very little. The television is in Arabic, the family speaks Arabic. Yes, outside I was ashamed to speak a little German or with the neighbors. Someone insults me or tells me, “You [we?] don’t want you.” Especially because I wear a headscarf, I have experienced many unpleasant situations. I wear the headscarf in the tram. A woman had told me: “Shit”. She insulted me, us, me.

[i] Several times?

It happened to me three or four times at that time. There were problems, some refugees caused problems. Yes, there are those who think that all refugees are like that. They generally think that all refugees have problems. On the contrary, I always [warn] them. [?] When you go out, [you] [re] don’t present yourselves, you [re] present your country, your religion. You must treat people with respect and courtesy, El hamdulellah Rab el Alamin. Respect to others, our reglion is to accept the other. We accept all. The images that come in the news, the news that the Muslims are very closed, the love no one and [only?] killing. This is false advertising that is not true. When the Germans come to us and see how tolerant people are that the church is next to the mosque. All next to each other in peace. There is no one who is above the other Yejaref [?], on the contrary. We had many Christians. My sister’s neighbour is a Christian and they are very friendly, like brothers and sisters, [they] had quite a strong relationship. There is no [that?], our religion accepts the others, it loves the others. Our religion is a religion of peace and respect. You have your religion and I have mine. We treat each other well. All religions are Charay [?] of Allah. There were some differences, but these are differences. Everyone is faithful to their religion. He lives as he wants, but he has to treat the others well. With respect, because in the end he is a human being.

[i] We want to talk about the positive in Bochum. When you came to Bochum, were you well treated?

Of course I’ll tell you, thank God. There is no country that has given so much to the refugees as Germany and these countries help the refugees, to be honest. The other countries, the Arab countries that closed their doors to refugees, Europe opened its doors to refugees. Europe has given them shelter, it has given them a life. An honest life. Man, what could be better when he says to you, “You come to us, we pay your living until you learn the language and work”? Is there a better dignity? There is no better dignity. There is no country that treats the Syrian refugees [like this].

They were destroyed.

[r] Yes, they were destroyed like [?]. For me, Germany has given us a lot. Of course we wholeheartedly thank the German people for embracing us. Honestly, not one or two Syrians. Thousands. Syrians came here, she [Germany] opened her hands [arms?] to live here. A good life, their children learning and those who learn and work. Depending on society and giving a negative image [?]. People have been good to you, you have to be better and treat them better than they treated you. I’m always like that, that’s my opinion. My family, everyone, we are very very grateful to Germany [fo[r] what it gave us, honestly.

[i] Do you like Bochum?

Yes, of course, when I’m in another city and come back, I say, “We’re back in our city.”

Do you feel at home, on Engelsburger Straße, is [this] your home?

Of course, it is now. Yes, this is my home, thank God.

[i] Are you stable?

Yes, thank God, I feel good there. Thank God my children learn the language. And the situation is very nice compared to war. What we have experienced, on the contrary, there is nothing better, to be honest. There is nothing better than that people have given you everything to learn (and you can live a good life).

Do you want to bring your parents here?

I swear it is my wish.

[i] And your brothers and sisters?

I wish this very much, it is my wish. I’ll get my mother and father. He’s old, to be honest. My mother is sick. If I can’t get her, I want to see her. Not easy, I made a request to Lebanon I was not allowed to go.

[i] Why?

They told us Syrian Palestinians were not welcome. They did not allow me to do that. With a lot of effort, twenty days of visitation so that my mother could come and I could see her. I haven’t seen her in seven years. I was psychologically prepared, shocked and tired. How you were prepared to leave, then you start all over again. There is nothing difficult.

[i] How can you communicate with them?

[r] IMO and MESSENGER. [Laughs]

[i] With sound and vision?

Yes, thank God with sound and vision.

[i] That’s good?

Very much, if it were these means, these means of communication [not?], [then] you would be even more broken. […] You communicate with your family, it’s a nice thing. Whenever I talk to my father, he says, “Wallah.” The best thing is when I can see you and you can see me and we can talk.” Always like this when I talk to [him/euch?], he said, this is the most beautiful thing. [?]

[i] You take a dose of energy.

[r] Of course. Missing becomes better when you talk to them.

[i] Of course.

[i] After you had the war behind you and experienced many ugly things, you came to Bochum, including your children. How is social life in Bochum, tell us what? Activity, cultural, civilized?

For Bochum there are some examples. Every Thursday we met in a club. We sit, discuss, change the atmosphere. There is sometimes contact with Germans, but little time. [She thinks] [I?] How do you feel? Are you starting to integrate [yourself]? [R?] I’ve been here the other day, I’ve been here four years. I feel no, thank God, I feel fine. My psyche has improved after this long suffering that I have experienced. The traces remain. It’s not so easy to forget, you have psychological problems. They are there, but you need a while to get your psyche back to the way it was before. The fear disappears, the restlessness. You’re afraid of the unknown, where should we go? My son and [my] daughter have a protective status, I’ve got three years. The two little ones are three years old, the adults say they can say no matter when, now you have to go. We came and saw death until we arrived here. No matter when, they can send us back.

[i] Yes, [that] is hard.

Very, of course.

How long have you been here?

In February I have been here for four years.

I’m sure there’s a hope of staying here, you’ve learned the language.

[r] Yes, definitely.

[i] The boys learn professions and work, your daughter is young.

Yes, they want, they want to learn and work, my son wants to learn nurses, inshallah, he can do that. He learns nurses, each of them has something. He wants to learn and live here in dignity.

What do you miss most?

Where? To Syria?

[i] Yes.

What I miss most is the atmosphere of Eid and Ramadan, the family that is together. The family atmosphere. We had always visited my mother in the car. My brothers and sisters, this atmosphere. That’s what we missed, that’s what we were robbed of, the family bond, that’s what you feel. Everyone has [the] longing, [that] is not easy. Years, years pass in a moment.

Is there something, something [r] connection here between Germany, Bochum, and your country that is similar?

Yes, here on the whole I have discovered differences between here and there, here everything is regulated. They are more structured here. When you find work and work or when you learn. Result [?], with us [that] is difficult. Not easy. You can be sure, you can work here, you can learn. You can quickly stand in life, invest, spend. [That] is not a problem, and […?]