Column by Hassan
Part I, 13.09.2022
Hello, my name is Hassan Ali Kurdi from Syria. I have been living in Germany for about a year. I will share with you the sadness of the story of my immigration to Germany every week. The war in Syria started in 2011 when I was 8 years old. I grew up with the sounds of war, explosives and bullets. I used to sleep and wake up to the sound of explosions or the news of the death of one of my friends every day.
In 2016, my family had two options, either to die in Syria and they forced me to fight when I was 12, or to leave everything behind and risk our lives in the smuggling routes and in the hands of human traffickers, but after they took me from the school door to the prison to send me to the war front, my father sold everything we had and paid them to leave me again and I fled with my family to the Kurdistan region.
More on that next week.
Part II, 26.09.2022
The way to my escape from Syria to Kurdistan took us three days - three days like three years in hell. The people who were responsible for transporting us from Syria to Kurdistan, we did not know them, we did not see their faces for three days. We did not even know what language they spoke, but they spoke some Arabic and had weapons with them. They threatened us several times that they would kill us if we made any noise. After we walked for 20 hours, they brought us to a very old car and told us to go up on it. The road was all mountains and we knew that this car would not handle this road, but they forced us to climb on it anyway.
My family came in the front and I was sitting in the back. They opened the car with other people after we walked a little bit, but the car broke down. One person tried to turn on his phone and call his family but when the smuggler heard him talking on the phone, he immediately got out of the car and pulled all of us from the back of the car and put our heads on the ground. He beat us.
My mother was begging him to stop hitting me. When he found out who exactly was talking on the phone, he broke his phone and started hitting him until the person could no longer move. At first, they wanted to leave him in the woods but they were afraid that if police find this person, they would start chasing us. We had to wait in a place where there was nothing, no food, no water. It was very cold. The old car broke down. We could not escape from our smugglers because if we did, they would simply shoot us.
I want to mention another thing on the way. We had a girl with us. She also wanted to escape from Syria and arrive to Kurdistan to marry her boyfriend there. She was carrying her wedding dress with her. This dress was stained with blood because she wiped the blood of the man who beat him.
Part III, 13.10.2022
After all the torment we had experienced on the way to Kurdistan, we arrived after three days. The smugglers left us in an isolated area and fled. We did not know anyone there. We stayed in the street for two days until we found some people who helped us and took us to the city. We went to the camp, but they did not register us. They said no. There is no place for you. You have to wait for your turn. They took us to a big yard and gave us small tents. They told us that we should wait here until our turn comes.
We stayed there for several days. It was raining and they did not give us enough food. Several days later, a family came and helped us find a place for us to live. We stayed there for a few weeks, then they said that now it is your turn, you can register. We were hoping to find a good place to live in but the camp was also very bad. It had no electricity or water. We had to walk about a kilometre to reach the bathrooms and the shared kitchen were the bathrooms. The kitchens were so dirty that we had to put on masks in order to enter because of the germs and the smell. Most of the refugees were sick and poisoned there. There was no healthcare system. You had to wait 10 to 15 days to be able to meet a doctor or a nurse.
We could not continue living there. We tried to communicate with that family who helped us. We told them that we wanted a house to live in and we would try to pay the rent by ourselves. In fact, they found a house for us and we moved in there. I wanted to study but I was the only one able to work because the society is patriarchal there. My mother and my sister couldn't find a job for a long time and even when they found one, the coworkers and the bosses harassed them sexually.
That is why I had to leave school and start working. It was also difficult for me to find a job with a good salary because I was very young. All jobs that I could get were extremely underpaid. I got a tiny salary. It was not enough for me and my family. In the end, I had to work with a company cleaning streets. The work was exhausting and very long. They took advantage of my need for money. They also gave me more tasks
than others because they knew I could not complain to anyone.
At the time, I didn't know what is better: live this hell-like life or be killed in Syria.