Survivor, Mother, Dreamer, Refugee

Northen Greece
June 1, 2017

Meeting a refugee who has faced the cruel conditions of traveling through countries and crossing so many borders in order to reach Europe is always a difficult situation. You never know what to ask for without bringing back bad memories, and you always feel too small regarding the courage and the strength that these people carry, in order to survive and help the most precious thing they have in life, their families. 

Fatima is exactly that refugee. Not only a survivor, but also strong mother who dreams of a better future for her children. She comes from Aleppo of Syria and nowadays she lives in Drama’s camp with her four children and her husband. Her children – three girls and one boy - aged nine, seven, five and three years old were playing with other children of the camp while she welcomed us to their little house. Her family is in Greece for more than one year, since February 2016.

Their journey from Syria to Europe was long and particularly difficult. They started from Aleppo, passed to Damascus, then Homs, and then to Turkey where they stayed until they managed to raise money and courage in order to travel the difficult part of crossing the sea to Greece. Unlike most Muslims, Fatima does not wear a scarf . This fact raised reactions against her in Turkey. That attitude against her has been strongly marked in her memory. Before arriving in Drama, they lived in "Dimitra" hotel in the northern Greece, where, as she states, the situation was clearly better than in the camp. What is positive in the camp is that MDM’S medical team, funded by the European Union, has a permanent presence there, which means that they can have immediate access to health care, something crucial for a family with four children.

The main problem that she faces everyday in this new “home” is the continuous noise that does not allow her to sleep at night, despite the autonomy she has now in that little appartment. But having spent three months in Eidomeni, the noise seems a luxurious problem, according to Fatima. Sometimes during the night  she remembers Eidomeni and she calms down because now her family is in a safe place. They managed to stay there all this time with the hope that one day the borders would be opened and they would manage to leave for their destination. They were there, in miserable conditions, for three whole months.

The final destination of Fatima’s family is Sweden. Her sister already lives there and she imagines Sweden as the country where her children will have the prospect of a better life, and the whole family will live united again. Fatima used to be a teacher in Syria, as she says, and the most torturing feeling nowadays is that none of her four children have yet attended lessons to school. She is looking forward to the opening of the school in Drama’s camp so that they can gradually begin their education. Touched by remembering all the details of her story she wishes with whole her heart that one day she and her family would be able to return to Aleppo. "We left because it was extremely dangerous but Syria it is my country and my thought is always in the day of return."

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