The first time Anas, 24, was arrested and beaten by the security forces in Damascus his mother waited outside crying. The second time it happened a bag with passport and supplies waited for him. This is his story.
I want to make clear that it didn't start out as a war. It all began with people marching for universal human needs. These were peaceful protests that went on for six months.
Then came the sound of automatic weapons, bullets penetrating the bodies of unarmed people. They had nothing but their weak voices as weapons. As time went on, the violence increased. On certain days, it was as we were drenched in a flood wave of bullets. On other days, we would hear artillery fire from the mountainside, and the grenades that hit Damascus.
I may have met some of the perpetrators in the past. I ponder about those people, these criminals that harm their brothers. I was taken to a security headquarter in Damascus. Even though I was only there for a few hours, it was enough to turn my body blue. My mother stood outside crying, waiting for her only child. I couldn't move my body for 15 days. I just slept and rested.
I was then arrested once more. They threw me into a black car and drove me to another headquarter. Just like before, I answered all their questions. But they didn't like my answers, so they beat me into a pulp. That time, my mother wasn't waiting outside. Instead, I found a bag with my passport and some supplies. A bag that would help me flee the terror and horror of my country, a bag that would help my mother find peace. It's easier talking to me on the phone than not being able to hear my voice at all.
I remember the time before the war as beautiful. But how can one describe in detail days that passed over four years ago? Using words filled with pain and fatigue, feelings I didn't use to feel before the war. I went to school and the days were filled with everything but emptiness. I used to chat and discuss with my friends, and our conversations lasted for hours on end. I left home at nine in the morning and returned at eleven at night. Half of all my problems had to do with my father since I rarely made it home in due time.
When the war started, I did my first year in college. I was studying computer engineering and worked hard to specialize in computer networks. At the same time, I wanted to work with electric installations together with my relatives.
I fled the country in March 2014. The journey went through Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan, Turkey, Greece, Germany, Denmark, and finally, Sweden. Me ending up in Sweden had little to do with the war. I had developed a love for the country ten years prior. I had even bought a book in Arabic titled "Life in Sweden." It had lots of pictures and nice descriptions of the country. Everyday life, transportation, the strong economy, the educational system. I memorized the name of three cities, Gävle, Stockholm and Luleå. Once I got to Sweden, I passed through Gävle. When I told my mother, she started laughing. I said to her, who would have thought I would apply for asylum in the same city as I mentioned ten years ago.
Me ending up in Sweden had little to do with the war. I had developed a love for the country ten years before that. I even bought a book in Arabic titled "Life in Sweden."
Although Sweden had been on my mind for quite some time, another reason that I went there was the insecurity I experienced in other countries. Employers abused young Syrian men who were willing to work up to 13 hours a day, without any rights. There were no stable accommodations, and we had to share apartments between eight people to afford rent, from time to time.
The worst part of the journey was undoubtedly Greece, and the monsters that didn't see us as human beings, but rather bags of money. All the people that tricked and fooled you in all sorts of ways. 100 euros, 200 euros, just for small favors like recommending cheap hotels.
I was so happy and my heart filled with joy and a sense of triumph over having been able to get here.
I can't describe what I felt when I arrived in Sweden in May 2014. I was so happy and my heart filled with joy and a sense of triumph over having been able to get here. Tears of joy are the only words sufficient as discription. Almost all my expectations were met: life, education, the way to communicate. I must say that it was great to know about the weather beforehand. These cold temperatures! The only thing that shocked me was the accommodations. I don't understand how such a vast country as Sweden has a housing problem.
I applied for asylum in June 2014 and got my residence permit in April 2015. I'm now living in Malmköping in the municipality of Flen, but I don't like it very much. The houses are very old. I'd prefer living somewhere else. There are no people here. I want to live in a larger city with people from different backgrounds. I want to have many friends. My landlord is, to put it mildly, not very respectful towards its customers and tenants. I'd rather live in Sundsvall, Västerås or Kalmar. Those cities' buildings and people give me a feeling of beauty.
I've registered for a an introductory course in Swedish. After that, I would like to continue my studies. Although, I have debts that weigh on my shoulders, so my plan is to learn Swedish properly and get a job, such as working with electrical installments. Once I've paid off my debts, I'll go back to studying. My biggest concern right now is not finding a job in the future.
I'm not pleased with the SFI education at all. I and my guy friends joke around on the word, 'asseffi' in Arabic means 'my regrets'
Having recently arrived in a new country, it's important to show respect to others. I want to emphasize that. From the perspective of Sweden, I think the only thing a newly arrived need is a light that guides their way. If you see a light, you have something to strive towards. Sweden lack such light at the moment. I'm not pleased at all with the SFI, the Swedish education school for immigrants. Me and my guy friends joke about the word, "asseffi" in Arabic means "my regrets."
Whether I return to Syria or not depends on how things turn out in Sweden, with language, work, and contacts. If I don't succeed in finding a good place to stay I'll probably return to Syria after the war. But if I only manage to achieve some of my dreams I will stay here.