Is A Part Of Education….
19th May 2016
This morning, geoff was begging for coffee, so mum and I walked into Nea Kavalia so we could get some. It was fifteen minutes before we did find an open supermarket. My sleep last night was superb, mum had a rubbish nights sleep and was grumpy!
Once we got back to our accommodation, and after our usual dose of coffee and chocolate croissants, we thought back over our time here were we have met some interesting and very kind people….
Soon, we decided to explore the main Kavala town. We jumped into the car and headed back into the old town where we knew we could park. The centre of the new town was now only a short walk from where we were. The small streets had now changed into bustling, main roads, and the architecture was not as pretty,nor stylish as the “pangia”-(old town)- As we strolled along the pavement, past many shops, I clutched hold of Geoffs iPad, in case anyone tried to snatch it from me….soon we were hungry, and stopped off at a restaurant. Since we were in Greece, I had a traditional Greek meal called chicken souvlaki-(chicken kebab)….it was delicious!
As we left the restaurant, with our stomachs full we noticed how the weather had dramatically changed from hot and sunny, to cold and windy. I was not enjoying it. After finding the car, we headed back to the campsite, and sat in the cold.
Mum spent some time talking to the people here. Some of them have great English language skills, but the youngsters struggle sometimes. With this in mind Mum has told two of their stories. This is closer to the truth than BBC news.
Johads story. ( Johad means Man of Horses)
Imagine leaving your home in a war torn city, closing the door on most of your belongings and with just a bag each, small, easy enough to carry, walking away from all of your possessions and the life you knew. Your mother, your father, your sister and you. As you turn your back on the house where you were born and pick your way through the derelict streets, you glance back- just once- and wonder if you will ever see home again, or wether you will want to.
From Damascus, your Father has organised a plane ride. This is such an adventure, you have never been on a plane before, never even to an airport. The airport bustles and is vibrant with many people going to many different places. You are excited and a little worried about flying. You have seen many planes in the sky before, but to ride in one…….
The plane lands in a new country. You are in a land called Turkey and your parents have been told that for a better future for you all the family must make their way to the coast. To do this, you must first get to a place called Izmir, then from there catch a boat to a place in Greece, (another country!) called Lesbos. How exciting, again more varied transport. I have never been on a boat before either!
We wait on a messy beach in Turkey, there are lots of other Syrians. Father has paid a lot of money for this trip. Eventually we are shown to a boat. It is little more than an inflatable dinghy. It’s quite large though and we are packed into the boat with perhaps another 40 people. Some of us are given life jackets to wear, but most not.
Lesbos is two hours away by boat and the sea is not being kind. Waves and breakers tip the unstable craft and cold sea water continuously washes across the boat, soaking everybody on board. There is a lot of panic on the boat. Everybody is uneasy and the captain looks worried at the size of the waves too. I reach for my sisters hand and she squeezes it tightly, her eyes wide with fear. Neither my sister or I can swim. My Mother and Father have only ever been to the Ocean once before, Mother hates the water.
Happily we can see land now, not too far away! There is a great deal of excitement on our little boat. I look at my sister and she dares to smile a little to me. She still holds tightly to my hand though. Nobody on the boat is experienced with water and boating, the men on board begin to get excited to see the land and are restless to be off the boat, they begin to move about in readiness to get off this craft but this is the wrong thing to do, and we are still too far out in the sea. Everybody else on board the little boat starts to panic as the craft tilts dangerously from side to side, people fall off their seats, calling out loudly and grab hold of one another as the boat tips deeply into the water at one side, my sisters smile is not there anymore.
As the movement of scrambling people becomes too much for the dinghy one side rises up out of the water and some people fall off the high raised side, others get washed out by waves from the low side. The boat is sinking now deeper in the cold, crashing water. People with no life jackets reach out to the ones who have them, panic and struggle endanger both. Mother grabs a bag floating by and holds on to it and reaches out for me. We move our legs like we are riding a bicycle. Mother is crying and looking about for Father and my Sister. Past the many heads of frightened people in the water we can see them, we can also see men in more boats arriving. They are beginning to yank us one by one out of the cruel sea and pull us up into the safety of their little boats. Some of the younger Syrian men can swim, and strike for shore, I see my sister pulled onto a boat and soon I am yanked out and dragged into another one.
On the beach we are thankfully together as a family again. Mother still clings onto our only remaining bag. My sister dares not smile at me again!
We are on new shores, in a new land, we have made it across deserts and oceans. But what is in store for us now, I don’t know. I am twelve and all I know is my hometown was being destroyed in a war that didn’t really involve us. We came away to safety. We are still searching for where this safety might be.
I left five sisters and three brothers in Syria. Yes, they are still there, they are at home still with my mother and father. My father works as a clerk for the government and my Mother also works for the Government, which is why they could not leave, with so many mouths to feed they need to keep their jobs to make money for my family, so they stayed in the village where I come from.
It’s close to the trouble, everywhere is. It’s annoying for me and for Syria because it’s not our war, it is not even our people fighting the war. America and Russia and China and the big important people call the shots in a fight that we are no part of but suffer the most from.There are people from England in the armies which are fighting this war. It is a war that I do not believe in, my friends do not believe in this war. If it was a war where we have to fight for Syria, then I would. But this isn’t like that. So I do not want to fight this war. If I stayed in Syria, they would make me fight, I would be fighting against people I do not want to hurt for a cause I do not believe in.
So I have to leave my village. It is why I came away. I saved up all of my money to get this far. I have little money left now. The people in Greece are very kind, they are very friendly and they help us. Especially the ” ” papa”, you know, the Padre” . He comes and he talks with us and he helps us by bringing things from his church members.
No, I am not Muslim., not anymore. When I see how my country has become angry with each other over their religions I want no part of that. I left my Muslim background when I turned 18, I told my Mother and Father that I am old enough now to be able to decide what I choose to believe in and what I don’t. I respect all religions but it’s not for me, not anymore. I have looked at many different holy books and nowhere is it written that war is part of the good plan. War has torn my family and my home and life apart.
“I have this now,” he proudly shows me a card, protected in a plastic cover, it is officiated by the UN Envoy. He is labelled as a refugee and there is a smiling picture of him on it. ” with this I can go to countries now, I like it here because the Greek people have been kind and friendly, but we must find work, if we want to stay. This pass means I am allowed to work. But here Greece is poor and may not employ me and my friends. Still we look and ask. We would really like to go to England, because we can speak English, but it is OK if we have to learn another language too.
Maybe I won’t ever go back to Syria and my home. Yes I miss my family but the way is different there, I like the European way now. Our country is being manipulated and only some of us can see it. Some people see it, but unlike me, they can’t get out.”
He calls, ” goodbye, have a pleasant day” he walks off towards town to find work.