Ahmad’s story

Ahmad is a 50-year-old, lawyer, painter and poet.

In his country Syria and in the Arab world, is among the well-known contemporary authors. Even today, despite persecutions, imprisonment, health problems, family separation and the experience of becoming a refugee, he continues to write poems and prose that he sends for publication in Arabic newspapers and magazines.

He is married to the 44-year-old Nadjah, a former teacher, and a father of three; Yozan, 20, Haya, 18 and Abdalah, 13 years old. His financial situation was very good during the years he lived with his family in Raqqa, Syria. “For 20 years, a competent lawyer and active citizen“, he says.

Ahmad is hosted today in a SolidarityNow apartment in Athens, along with his eldest son Yozan, in the framework of ESTIA*, the Emergency Support to Integration and Accommodation program. In an apartment full of colors, paintbrushes and paintings, while in the center of this small house is the painter’s easel; the painter who does not stop to surprise. When he paints, he confesses, he needs to listen to music. Suddenly something intimate was heard – music by ‘Odes’, the album of Greek folk songs by Irene Papas and Vangelis Papathanasiou! At the same time, he says that one of his favorite painters is the Greek painter, Panayiotis Tetsis.

But Ahmad’s story begins earlier; a story in which he is the hero and tries hard to save his life. He left with his family and reached Turkey to get away from ISIS. They stayed there for a long time. The famous writer, Ahmad, although a refugee in Turkey, was almost every month a guest in a Turkish University to present his work, but also to speak about the life as a persecuted in Syria. Not even there, he stopped fighting for freedom of speech and human rights.

Shortly after, his wife with the two younger children returned to Syria when Ahmad’s mother-in-law died, with a view to returning to Turkey a few weeks later. But they didn’t manage to reunite. The borders were gradually closed. It was difficult for them to even move within Syria.

Ahmad and Yazan fled to Greece. From Farmakonisi to Leros, then to Athens and the SolidarityNow apartment. They are currently in anticipation of bringing the rest of the family to Greece. Ahmad, however, tries not to face life passively. He supports and relies on his son, a talented amateur footballer, as he sees him, he reads about ancient Greek culture and dreams of becoming a professional painter.  

*ESTIA, the Emergency Support to Integration and Accommodation program, is implemented by SolidarityNow, supported by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and funded by European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations (ECHO).