Tarek Alhamad's Story
Our response to the ongoing refugee crisis is Verbling Syria: a simple, small-scale initiative that offers free Swedish language lessons for refugees seeking asylum in Sweden. One of Sweden's largest newspapers just wrote about it and quoted one of the program's participants, Tarek Alhamad. Back in November, Tarek also sent us the following email, which we both feel is worth sharing.
"On Sun, Nov 1, 2015 at 10:18 PM, Tarek Alhamad wrote:
I really appreciate the opportunity you gave me. My first lessons were amazing. Miss Elisabeth is really a good teacher and the service, that you guys are providing, is really perfect.I have told every one I know here in Sweden or in other countries about Verbling and your amazing initiative and services.
For me, I have raised in small city called As Suwayda' which is located in the southern of Syria. For us the people who lived in Suwayda', we have a particular religion called 'Druze' and we were living in peace for around 250 years with no problem at all with our neighbourhood.
I was studying Computer Engineering in AL Baath University which is a the third university in Syria and in 2011 when the war started I had to move to Lebanon to complete my Study and My family were safe in Al Suwayda with no real danger for about 3 years.
But in 2014 'Isis' started to control more areas around our city. And according to Isis our religion is not a good religion or not acceptable. So we have two choices either change our religion into islam our we have to be killed.
In the June of 2015 Isis and others began a big battle to attack Thaaleh airbase which is a about 3 km far from my home. The battle was so strong and they started throwing bombs into our houses and the situation was very dangerous so every body in our village had to leave his/her house and me and my family left our house and we did not take even our clothes. So we went first to safe city next to us and then we towered to Lebanon to look for more security and have maybe good life.
We moved to Lebanon in June 17, 2015. By that time the Lebanon government announced new decision that affected the syrian people there. Syrian in Lebanon must have Lebanese guy who vows to protect them or they have to be under the protection of the united nation, and because no one in Lebanon offered us that unless he wanted a big amount of money instead. So we had to go to the united nation camp near the borders between Syria and Lebanon.
The life there was so miserable and we had to live in a tent and we suffered there a lot. So as a result of all that we had to figure out a new solution to get red of this humiliated, unbelievable miserable life.Every person we met or we heard from him told us that the solution is to go Europe and we started to think about that idea and since we don't have enough money to do that and it is so dangerous trip especially for my mom and my sisters, we decided to sell our land that we owned in Syria to afford the money for me only to go to Europe and that's what happened. We sold the land for the 2500$ I took form them 2200 for my trip and my family kept the 300 hundred.
I traveled to turkey via big ships and paid about 70$ and towered to city called Izmir. In Izmir all the people that want to go to Europe meet. So I started to look for smuggler (That's the only way) to help me to go from Turkey to Greece. I found one he told me it is so easy to do that and there will be no problem at all. I started a conversation with so many people on Facebook who already had reached Europe and asked them about the trip: is it dangerous to go from Turkey to Greece via those small boats and every answer was 'It so easy.
So I talked to the smuggler on the phone and told him I am ready. So in the next day I met him he took from me '1150'$ as price of the trip and he put me in a car and the car drove me to secret place called the 'point' which is the place were the boat will kick off to Greece.
After 48 hours in the point waiting for the boats and smuggler to come, sleeping under the trees and eating what ever we found, the boat finally came.
We kicked of at 23:00 pm at 26 September. I will memorize that date tell the end of my life. The trip was so dangerous and took long for about 3 hours. I had my biggest nightmares and my whole life changed, I felt like I lost my feeling and emotions. Maybe I cannot describe how dangerous the trip was because I don't have the suitable word to tell.
After that, the trip was easier there were a lot of people who helped us from the united nation also people from Greece. I started to move form country to another by walk, trains, buses, taxis what ever tell I reached Sweden after I spent all of my money.
Why Sweden ? Really I don't know. Maybe because since I was a child I have dreamed about being in this country but I reached it in the wrong way.
What about Now ? I want to build my self all over again, I want to start my career from zero because I have nothing.
Can I do that ?
Yeah I am sure and after all what happened I am sure that I can do it especially after you guys gave me this great opportunity to learn Swedish so I can integrated in this new society. You provided me with the best tool that I can have to fight and success in Sweden.
So at the end I would love to say from the depth of my heart thank you Jake and thank all the team who are participating in this great website 'Verbling'. I wish that day comes when I can repay you this amazing favour.