Fatima: Part 1


Before the conflict in Syria, Fatima enjoyed a rich and stable life. She had a comfortable routine of going to university in the morning, studying with her friends and going home to her family.

When we all came together as a normal family, at home to share dinner, I was feeling my happiest.

Life was easy and calm for Fatima back then. She would never have imagined that she would one day be forced to leave her home, her life, her family and be completely uprooted from all she had ever known.

“I had a beautiful life before the war. I used to go to the university and study with my friends. I used to spend time with my family and siblings every day. When we were all gathered together, we were happy. Life was easy and calm”, she said.

In the second year of Fatima’s studies, the conflict started. It grew from university classes being cancelled to violent demonstrations to a full blown civil war that has now claimed the lives of over a quarter of a million people.

Then, in 2012, Fatima got married. A ceremony that was supposed to celebrate life and love was carried out against a backdrop of chaos and destruction. Eventually, Fatima was forced to leave her home.

I left Syria in March 2015. I never thought I would. But I had to.

It took her and her family two days to arrive to Derek camp in Turkey. Fatima had been travelling through a warzone and across borders with her husband, her two-year-old son and her two-month-old baby.

Her parents were staying in another camp in Turkey with her brothers. They were all stuck in limbo in Turkey. At some point, Fatima’s husband decided that he wanted to go to Europe.

“I told my family that I wanted to go with him and not to stay in Turkey alone, even though I was afraid of the sea. So my parents told me to take my teenage brothers with me. And that is how we continued. At that point, I was pregnant with my daughter” she said.

They found the money to pay for a smuggler and went to Lesvos on a boat, a journey that had taken the lives of thousands fleeing persecution and conflict.

“We left turkey at 3am and were stuck in the sea for a long time. We waited and waited for the Greek coast guards to help us. I remember the day so clearly. I was so scared of the sea and could feel pressure in my belly where my daughter was growing. All I could do was pray to arrive safely.”