Age: 15
From: Rastan, Syria

Homs used to be a safe city, but once the people started shouting for freedom and began the revolution, we had many problems there. I couldn’t continue my studies. I saw everything there, the worst things in life– air strikes, a lot of fighting, a lot of dead people. When I went to the Greek-Macedonian border and the police started to throw tear gas bombs at us—it wasn’t a big deal to me because I had already seen everything in Syria.

(Audio excerpt from Ahmad’s interview- in Arabic)

When Assad’s army captured Rastan, the situation got worse. My brother and I paid a smuggler to take us to our uncle in Damascus, where we stayed for a few days. Then we went to Hama, and then to Homs. In Homs, I started working two jobs—construction with stones and iron.

I had a lot of problems with Assad’s army because I only have police papers, not a Syrian ID. In Syria, you get an ID when you are eighteen. I am only fifteen, but I look at least eighteen. My whole family looks older than their ages. Assad’s army thought I was faking my papers.

My father and brother left Homs and went to Germany. The rest of us were waiting for family reunification. When they told us it would be a two-year wait in the family reunification program to join them in Germany, we decided to leave Syria. We could not wait there for two years.

Since my family is of Palestinian origin, we were not allowed to go to Lebanon. So we decided to go to Turkey.

The first time we tried to enter Turkey from Syria, the police caught us. They took our fingerprints and told us not to try again. We tried again. We got caught. The third time—we made it into Turkey.

We stayed in Antakya for two weeks and then Gaziantep for another two weeks. Then smugglers drove us twelve hours west to Izmir in a small van.

The next day at 12 am the smuggler took us to the beach. And put us on the boat. The entire trip took us only one hour. Our engine stopped when we were in the international area, but after ten minutes, we were able to start it up again and continue. The Algerian guy driving our boat was a really good driver. It’s a shame. They’ve already deported him back to Algeria.

When I saw the Greek beach, I took off my shirt and jumped into the water and swam to shore.

When I arrived on the Greek beach, I saw two Greek girls. They were beautiful. It was 3 am and the girls just stood there, looking at us.

So now I’m in Greece with my mother and my younger sister and brother. My father and older brother are still waiting for us in Germany. My father has official refugee papers in Germany, so he was able to visit us a few times here in Greece. He just left 20 days ago. Now we are waiting for family reunification.

I miss having my family all together. I miss my friends—hanging out and joking with them all night. I miss playing soccer with my cousin and friend on the PlayStation. I’m much better at sports on the PlayStation than I am in real life.

In Syria, we all used to watch the soccer matches in a café.

I want to go to Germany to my brother and my father. If that doesn’t work, I had decided that I would go to Sweden, but my friends told me there’s no sun and it’s really cold and snowy there, so I changed my mind.

I really want to continue my studies because I was not able to do that in Syria.

And I just want to thank everyone from all over the world who helps us.

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