Get to know the newcomers, activists and volunteers we met in Athens, Berlin and London, as they share their personal experiences of refuge, welcome and the digital city.
You meet so many smugglers on the journey and they are the worst humans you can meet. From Syria to Turkey, they charge around 200 dollars to guide a person walking to a border point. But I had to be driven all the way because of my wheelchair, so they charged me ten times more.
On the way, the driver stopped at an olive grove and made me get out of the car in the middle of nowhere to wait for two young men to take me the rest of the way. No one ever came and there was absolutely nothing I could do. In the end, it took three attempts to cross from Syria into Turkey, and ten attempts from Turkey into Greece. Sleeping rough, police beatings, losing your life’s savings... my wife even had to sell all of our furniture. And on the last attempt to get to Greece, the smuggler took my wheelchair from me before I got on the boat. I don’t know what drives someone to try over and over again. For me, I think it’s believing that this is the way to see my children again.
Update June 2020 — I was fortunate to receive Greek travel documents, but family reunification remained impossible in Greece. I decided that my best option for being reunited with my family was to travel to Holland and apply for asylum there, but the Dublin agreement stood in my way and my application for asylum was rejected. I have since moved to Germany and have submitted an asylum claim here. It has been 10 months and I am yet to receive a final response from the German government. It has been such a long journey, all of it chasing a dream that is the most basic of rights: living with my family in one place.