no one leaves home until home is a sweaty voice in your ear
run away from me now
i dont know what i’ve become
but i know that anywhere
is safer than here
Wael reflected on his journey home after the first mission trip he went on as an aid worker in a refugee camp. It was back in September, long before the camps were well established. It was chaos and despair. His flight home was from Greece to Germany, an ironic twist.
“That was the promise land, the promise route. It took me 2 hours when it took them 6 days of misery.”
But he returned home positive, having met others that wanted to help. And having met refugees that restored his faith that maybe… there could be an end to all this. He tells the story of Sobhai.
Sobhai was a man that Wael met his first trip to Greece. He was a very well-educated man and because of his language skills had been chosen as the leader of a group trying to migrate from Greece to Germany. Sobhai kept on meeting people and picking them up along the way, so he ended up with a crowd of 18 when Wael met him. They kept in contact throughout the months, Sobhai would call Wael occasionally from different numbers in different countries.
Anjali Alwis is a Syracuse University graduate who spent two weeks working in a refuge camp in Thessaloniki, Greece. She went on a medical mission with SAMS, the Syrian American Medical Society, and was able to interview camp residents, volunteers, and doctors while there. She put together this six-part piece which details the arduous and challenging journey that refugees have to face in their search for safety.
Eventually, Sobhai and his followers made it to Germany. That was the last Wael heard from him. Until very recently.
ONE TRANSIENT REFUGEE SETTLES - RELIEF FOR FAMILY AND A FORMER AID WORKER
Wael received a phone call from Sobhai – he had settled in Bavaria. His son had been recruited by a local academy to play soccer and a local paper had run a story about him, which he wanted to send to Wael. Sobhai had also been asked by his Bavarian neighbors to cook Syrian food for a festival in the area. The food was a huge success.
“Seeing the picture of him and his son. I was tearing up. This is what they want. They just want that normal life. I tell every person I meet in the camps. This is Sobhai, this is you a few months ago. Don’t lose hope please,” Wael said.
ANOTHER CAMP RESIDENT AND FAMILY SEE A BETTER FUTURE, WHILE OTHERS CAN ONLY WAIT
The day before Abdulazez and I spoke, he learned that his family had officially been accepted into Spain. He would be leaving the camps finally. He doesn’t know exactly when he will be leaving, but there is an end in sight.
Although he will get to leave soon, there are many other people and many other families that will not.
(HEAR THE ENTIRE HOUR-LONG VERSION OF SIX DEGREES OF SEPARATION HERE)
Zainab, the 12 year old girl we met in an earlier story, talks of daily life in the camp. She was used to good Syrian food at home, but hates the food here. Her family has moved three camps and this is the fourth. For her, the most important thing is to get an education. She says that when she grows up she wants to be a doctor.