It was when girls started disappearing that my family decided it wasn’t safe for me to stay in Syria any longer. They would be stopped by police at roadblocks and wouldn’t return home. Damascus, where I was born and grew up, is one of the safest cities in Syria but the situation there is still very dangerous. I remember the sound of shells exploding at night and the electricity flashing on and off. At the time I was 20 and studying English literature at the University of Damascus. I really didn’t want to leave. My grandparents had brought me up, and before making the journey to the UK, the furthest my family had allowed me to travel alone was to the shops.
The journey was difficult – I still find the experience very hard to talk about. I crossed so many countries to get here. I heard about a charity offering space in UK homes to refugees through a friend some time after I arrived. Initially, I found the idea of living with strangers embarrassing. Why should someone I had never met be made to feel responsible for me? As a woman who had come here without any family, I worried about the safety of living with strangers, but I also thought my culture could be an issue too. I am Muslim and do not drink – would they be offended if they offered me wine and I couldn’t accept it? Would they find it strange if they saw me praying?
Sep 21, 2020he persecution, ethnic cleansing, and attempted genocide of Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar’s Rakhine state is an affront to the rule of law, a well-documented atrocity and, according to a top international lawyer, a moral stain on “our collective conscience and humanity”. So why are the killings and other horrors continuing while known perpetrators go unpunished? It’s a […]
Sep 01, 2020