Escape from drowning

By Atiya Khalil 

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Atiya was interviewed by a Swedish TV

My story begins in town of Tirbespiye (Al-Qahtaniyah), which lies in the northeastern province of Al-Hasakah. I was born and grew there. The town mix of Kurds, who make up the population’s bulk in addition to Arabs, Christians and Yazidi . The town abandoned by a large part of its people because of the war and successive blasts that rocked the city.
I completed the studies of the three stagesElementary, Secondary & high school then entered the Music Institute of Al-Hasakah in 1998. Two years after graduation I worked in the teaching field while studying translation at the Open Learning University of Damascus. During that, I got engaged to my husband whose financial conditions allowed him to afford living for years in tranquility and calm amid family and friends. That lasted until mid-2012, where a year has passed on the Syrian Revolution with the approach of fighting to our region.
I remember at the time, the fighting in east of my city behind the international line between The People’s Protection Units and Al-Nusra Front. As a result of the state of fear and anxiety in the family, we were forced to migrate out of the country. Despite the bitterness of separation from family and friends I chose Sweden as a refuge, specifically for the presence of my husband relatives there.
We set off to Turkey, which is considered the main crossing gate for us as Syrians through Tell Abyad. There we spent months of waiting and boredom and agony of the movements for housing and repeated promises from the smugglers in addition to high cost of living..
I remember back September 2012 when the smuggler promised us departure by sea in the city of Izmir. Fortunately when we arrived, there was no place for us amidships and promised us to be in the next time. We hear the next day of the ship sinking and the death of a large number of people. That closes the page of travelling by sea which we had chosen to drop costs compared with land or air.

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Atiya with Swedish Minister of Culture

We started thinking about travel by air and began again the suffering of finding a smuggler whom we can trust and with the coming days we begin minding the idea of returning to Syria through Qazeltbh crossing as the Turkish government allows Syrians back to cross, even those who do not have passports . Will return to towns and teaching again and leave behind in Turkey, the state of isolation that unpleasant, despite cultural similarities and habits. We did not learn Turkish for convictions that Turkey is a country of transit and not settlement. Finally we have been given the hour of departure.
I have been able with my son and two little daughters to reach Sweden.There I have explored a new lifestyle from that what we have witnessed in Syria in addition to the cold harsh climate, long hours of work and study compared to our societies. Plus, the difference in culture, values, customs and the difficulty of communicating with relatives and friends despite having a lot of families moved to live in this country recently. Life is no longer easy like that we have been used to–to live a real alienation, especially with two small children away from their father for more than four months until the completion of reunion papers.
All of this did not lead me to give up and I began to think how can we benefit from the many positives provided by refuge countries as in language learning opportunities and the acquisition of skills, modify a university degree with the possibility of follow-up study states.
I mastered the Swedish language over the past two years and honored by the Minister of Culture as a group of outstanding students. All this did not come as easily, as it is difficult to take care of children and do household duties then be a student at the same time under the constant thinking of parents and relatives while I follow the daily news and the incidence of displacements in the “Syria” which guide me to live into two different worlds.

*Atiya Khalil, graduated of the Institute of Music in  Al Hasakah, she based in Sweden

*Editing: Amir Darwish 

*Translated: Amjad Al Aswad

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