When I was twenty years old, war broke out in Syria. There was death everywhere. Bombs fell all the time on our town.
My father and brother escaped to Cairo, in Egypt. I wanted to go with them, but I couldn’t get a visa.
In 2015, I fled to Istanbul. My sister and her little children are here too. She’s been through so much pain. Her oldest son, Akram, was killed in the war. He was only sixteen. Her husband was arrested and we haven’t seen him since.
My sister is everything to me. She’s my country and my memories. She has such a positive attitude, and she makes me smile every day. Now I feel like a father to her children, as well as their uncle and their friend. Every morning, my sister and I have coffee together. After work, I take her kids to the park. Being with them gives me so much joy.
In Arabic, we call a death “the peak.” When someone you love dies, that moment is the peak of the pain you’ll experience.
It’s hard to be separated from the rest of my family. We have two brothers in Europe and two brothers still in Damascus. My father died in Cairo, and it was really hard to be so far away.
In Arabic, we call a death “the peak.” When someone you love dies, that moment is the peak of the pain you’ll experience. If you can get through that, you can survive everything that comes after. So after my father’s death, I tried to have faith that things would get better. Sometimes I feel he’s still with me. I talk to him in my mind and feel his support.
I want them to have a good life, like the one I had before the war.
I’ve tried to rebuild myself by creating a social life and a community here in Istanbul. My sister and I feel welcomed here. We have a similar culture to the Turkish people, and they sympathize with our suffering in the war.
When I look at my sister’s children, it gives me hope for the future. I want them to have a good life, like the one I had before the war.