I fled Syria in 2013

Because the Syrian civil war was becoming too dangerous for us. My husband and I lived in Damascus. He was a doctor, I worked as a teacher. We had a good life together and wanted to start a family. We saved up, had a nice house, some land, money and a future.

Our neighbourhood became the scene of heavy fighting

Then, in 2011, the demonstrations against President Assad started. In Damascus, too, peaceful protests took place, but the army used increasingly violent methods to repress them. It escalated into that horrible civil war. Our neighbourhood became the scene of heavy fighting between the army and insurgents. Air strikes were the order of the day. Bombs destroyed our city.

We had to leave! Our newborn baby Ahmed was barely four weeks old. Shortly thereafter, chemical weapons were used in our old neighbourhood. Many people suffocated and died on the spot.

We left by car and and started our journey passed many army checkpoints. Miraculously, we managed to cross into Lebanon. We took a plane to Egypt from the capital. As my husband had some family living in the Netherlands, we really wanted to go there eventually.

We looked for a human trafficker in Egypt, to help us cross into Europe. It was the only way to get out. We gave him all our savings and took a night boat to Italy. We were told that it would be brief and well arranged, so we dared to go.

But it was hell. It was a long trip on a boat that was far too full. There were many families with little children. There was no food, many people fell ill. I could only feed Ahmed water because my milk production had stopped.

It was a long trip on a boat that was far too full

When it started storming, I thought it would be the end of us. Everyone was terrified. After a few hours, I think, we heard a helicopter and saw a lifeboat. The lifeboat helped us get to the shore safely. We were so incredibly relieved! I am so grateful to those people for having saved us.

In the Netherlands we ended up in an asylum centre. It pains me a lot to see images of Syria. To see what IS and Assad are causing. Everything has been destroyed; barely anything is left of this beautiful country! Because that’s what it was, a wonderful country. Now, cities have been blown to pieces, hundreds of thousands of people have died and millions have fled.

I just want the war to end. But even if everyone were to put down their arms tomorrow, it would still take decades for the country to be even slightly rebuilt.

And now I really hope we’ll be able to get some peace. We have to start from scratch. We had everything, now we have nothing. Except each other.

The three of us want to rebuild a life together. For my husband and for myself, but especially for Ahmed. My biggest wish is for him to grow up in peace and safety. And with a future.