Said and Amal*

We barely had time to breathe between funerals, much less plan what to do next. Amal’s parents had been killed in their sleep in an airstrike; and Said’s parents, both medical professionals, lost their lives in airstrikes as well. We were afraid if we didn’t leave quickly, our two small children would also be orphaned. So, we packed a couple duffel bags, said goodbye to Syria, and fled for our lives.

By the time we reached the shores of Greece, Said’s passport was nowhere to be found, and he had no papers to prove his identity or our marriage. Amal still had her passport, but that felt so insignificant compared to all we had lost. It was difficult to see past the despair and find hope in a time like this.

We were moved into a refugee camp in Thessaloniki, where we were given a caravan with a bed to live in. This provided room to store our few belongings, and allow for our two little ones to play safely. Amal used the walls of their caravan to express her deep grief over the loss of her parents, her home, her people and her country. Said spent his days in the camp making sure their application for asylum was moving forward, and our family had what we needed. The feelings of desperation were overwhelming at times making it almost impossible to trust anyone.

A few months into our stay at the camp, Amal found out she was pregnant with our third child. This sent Amal into near depression. She wondered, “How can I bring up another child in these conditions?” It was a thought that haunted her. But, after nearly five months in the camp, we received word that we would move out of the camp and interview for asylum in another EU country — a mercy we were ultimately granted.

We are now in our new country, with our three children, learning a new language and culture and trying to make a new future; but our heart still aches for our country and people.