By Thair Orfahli
Post 6 – May 2013 – I had been Alexandria, Egypt, for 8 months already and had been able to continue my studies in law. I had found a room in a shared apartment with other Syrian refugees. Meanwhile, Sara was working in Egypt. Together with Emad and Johanneke and many others we supported refugee families and communities from different countries through a solidarity organization called Sina Network.
Post 7 – November 2015 – After 2 years in Egypt, I graduated from the faculty of law of the University of Alexandria and I tried to obtain authorization to work as a lawyer in Egypt. However, according to Egyptian law, I needed to have a permit from the Arab lawyers syndicate of my country of origin, Syria!! They basically wanted me to travel back to Damascus, in the midst of war, for a piece of paper. In addition, my passport was stolen, which made things very difficult for me. The Syrian embassy would not issue him a new one — they would only give me a travel document allowing me to travel back to Syria to serve in the Syrian army and put my life in great danger. Without any hope of getting a job and at serious risk of being detained or sent back to Syria, I had no other choice than to flee, once more – this time to Europe .
Post 8 – 18 May 2015 – in despair, like many other refugees, I paid a smuggler US$2,000 for the very expensive crossing from Alexandria to Sicily, Southern Italy. The news talks were talking about these boats sinking with no survivors and all my friends were telling me not to go but I knew inside me I had to try to reach the other shore of the Mediterranean Sea so that I had a chance to build a new life. Maybe I was making the wrong choice… I said by to everyone, I left my computer and my belongings with a dear friend, I took on a little food and water, and a life vest.. I was ready to go!!
Post 9 – 22 May 2015 – We were packed like sardines. A 100 of us are hidden in the back of a truck to reach the dock. It was dark, hot and we were all very anxious… We had to swim a bit to reach the boat. As we got further away from Egypt and we reached international waters, more people would arrive in smaller boats coming from Libya. It was very cold at night, and we had run out of food and water. The waves were 3 meters high and our boats, which were tied together, would be pulled apart and crash back together. I’ve never been so afraid. Many of us became sick, especially the children. I remember there was one little girl from Somalia who could not stop crying. I had run out of medicine but I told her I would give her some, instead I gave her honey and I held her in my arms. After a bit she stopped crying and felt better. I will never forget her scared eyes… We were on this tiny, crammed boat for ten days.. 234 of us from Sudan, Eritrea, Somalia, Syria and Iraq. Each story is more touching than the next. The strength they were showing was unbelievable.
Post 10 – 28 May 2015 – After 10 days at sea, the Italian Coast Guard rescued our boat. They saved us. We could not believe it. We had NO passport NO money NO clothes, nothing. But we were alive. In 2015, more than 2,300 people died trying crossing this sea.. If it costs 300 US dollars for a flight to Europe from North Africa, why are refugees being forced to board very unsafe boats and risk their lives for 2000 dollars?
Post 11 – Receiving messages from all my loved ones made me feel SO grateful to life, the greatest and most precious gift we have.