Ali Okla

Komorebi Post– Eight years ago, after spending a year and a half in the Syrian regime prison, without any charges and just when the Syrian regained control of our area, I decided to leave my country and go to Europe- as it was becoming more and more dangerous. I was forced to leave, my home, my family and my country. I only could take my memories, although it feels like I lost some after the horrors I experienced in my way.   

After searching and contacting people with asylum experience on WhatsApp who introduced me to smugglers. The advice was to go to Turkey first, Greece then Europe, I joined a group of other people like me and we all went to north of Syria. To enter Turkey, we had to pass the concrete wall without being shot of course, many refugees lost their lives there.

My only concern was to communicate with my family back in Syria to tell them I made it alive- but because networks were completely destroyed by the regime forces, I am only able to contact them sporadically via internet when one of them is able to go to an area where there is internet. Thinking to myself that the hardest part was over, the boat of death was waiting for me, we call them this way because there is not a better description.

A phone call saved our lives

We were taken to the loading area, there were many people, families, women and I remember at least 14 children all under eleven years old. The boat was too small for all of us. We were all squeezed inside the boat, and every five of us shared one life jacket, it was very dangerous, but our motive for a better life was worth this imminent danger.

The boat sailed on an early morning, the sea was stormy and there were waves that kept throwing our small boat. The captain of the boat decided to make a phone call to the Turkish coastguard just in case and after only one hour a gigantic wave turned our boat upside down.

The screaming of children and others who do not know how to swim was everywhere, in these moments I was confused between saving my friend or trying to save one of the children.  One of the most difficult decisions in life.  Luckily, the Turkish coastguard responded to the call of the captain before any decision was taken, two children and a man drowned without any trace. We were taken to a nearby hospital in Izmir- back to Turkey and after the investigation we were released.

I tried again,

After a short while, I decided to try again, but this time on foot. Before anything I downloaded many many maps for the way on my smartphone then arranged the details with yet another smuggler with another group, we reached the Greek border. We only had to pass a river after that we reach the official Greek territory. The guide helped us pass, but our bad luck, many of us were arrested, humiliated and most possessions were confiscated by the Greek border guards; the German commandos, I do not know what brought them to the Greek border, perhaps they came to guard Europe’s borders from here. The guide left us, but GPS is a great global service and it helped me tremendously determine my location and knowing where to go, even when I did not have internet connection, I used all the maps I downloaded on my phone. six days later we got to Athens.

My journey of asylum is bitter and cruel. I consider myself lucky comparing to all those who died on their way. But the general collective feeling is that everything in the universe even nature has conspired against us- the strangest thing is that our ultimate ambition is just to live as human beings.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *