Here is the voice of Yara.

Something that really bothers me about the word “refugee” is how we are all stereotyped together. When a small group of refugees or Syrians does something bad, people start to generalize us and say, “All refugees are like this”. That is simply not true.
If my life was a book, it would be just two chapters: My Happy Childhood and The Time After. My life was completely changed when my brother passed away because of the war and when we had to leave Syria. These experiences took my innocence.
He was only 14 years old. He was walking down the street in the area of the free army with his friends when a bomb fell on the building next to them. Everything exploded and particles from the building sliced my brothers neck. There cannot be a harder day than this, and the days don’t get easier.
Now when I look through my book of memories, my happiest times always involve being together and enjoying life with my family. I realize now that I didn’t appreciate how precious those moments were. I wish I could go back.
But still I have hope. There is no way to live without hope. Even a person in the worst situation clings to the idea that tomorrow will be better. Many refugees are already working, contributing to society, and inspiring others to do the same. These refugees are really showing the strength of the human spirit.
In Germany, a lot of things still bring me joy: shopping, being with my friends, learning new things, especially learning German, that’s why I’ve survived here in Germany. But in Germany, I am always thinking about Syria and trying to find a solution for the destruction there. I dream of becoming an educated women that helps bring peace. The thought of the war in Syria ending really brings me joy.
I think the only way to have peace in Syria is to forgive each other, to move on from what happened, and try to build understanding.

What would you like volunteers to know?

I want volunteers to know that everyone can help. The mental support is the most important. We need people that will listen to our stories of the past and give us hope for the future.
Also, just as refugees are trying to get to know the German way of life, Germans should to do the same. They should make an effort to get to know us personally, generalizing is not a solution. Simply going to a refugee home can be the solution.

When hearing about the Syrian Civil War on the news and stories of refugees dying on their way to Europe with hopes of starting a new life, it became clear to me that this may be the worst humanitarian crisis of my time. At first, I planned on spending my summer with friends and working as a waitress as I normally do, but as my awareness of the refugee crisis grew, I could no longer stay in my small town doing nothing about it. Although I had no previous experience working with refugees, I felt that by doing nothing I was standing on the side of injustice.

I wanted to hear the stories of refugees, to know their pain, fears, hopes, and dreams. I spent my summer in Berlin, which has a high number of refugees, and I became friends with many Syrian women refugees. I asked my family and friends what they would ask a refugee if they could talk to one in person, and then I used a compilation of their questions to interview my new Syrian friends. I’m sharing their voices here in hopes that others can hear and begin to understand their stories.


Photos and story by Danica Simonet