A Story about World Refugee Day_Despite the adverse conditions, M. does not lay down arms; he has a plan and tries to implement it step by step


M. comes from Syria and lived with his family in Northern Greece, in an apartment rented by SolidarityNow, as part of the *ESTIA program. The social workers, who were responsible for M. and his family, tell us that he is a role model! They use his case as an example to the program’s beneficiaries, who are now trying to take the first steps and stand on their feet without depending on an organization or the state’s support.

From the first moment they entered the apartment, back in 2018, 27-year-old M. requested for a larger apartment for his family. They were transferred to the new apartment and then M. started seeking for a job. Together with a friend, they started working in flea markets selling fruits and vegetables. The nature of the work and the communication with the customers was an opportunity for him to learn Greek. And as things slowly got better, one of his children got sick. M. never stopped believing that everything would go well and strive for it. SolidarityNow arranged and organized visits to doctors and hospitals. In the midst of these challenges, another one was added; the announcement of the family’s exit from the ESTIA program at the end of May 2020.

The fear lasted for a while in the case of M. as he had to think logically and find a solution immediately. The appointment with the doctor for his child was scheduled after the end of the quarantine; now the issue of the house remained. He was informed by his social worker about the HELIOS** accommodation program and visited the International Organization for Migration offices alone; there he got informed about the rental apartments. M. called and found an apartment where it could meet his family’s needs. In order to convince the owner of the apartment, he referred him to SolidarityNow. Eventually, M. gained the trust, but also the admiration of the owner who wanted to offer both him and his wife a job in his restaurant, that due to Covid had remained closed.

Despite the adverse conditions, M. does not give up; he has a plan and implements it step by step. And as his social worker says, he is a good man, he wants only the best for himself and his family and he fights tough for it. He is a generous and warm man, and if you gain his trust, he can give you his heart. Today, M. continues to work in flea markets, but the income is not enough to cover his expenses, so he’s doing other jobs as well, believing that at some point he will find a better job so that he can support his family.

* ESTIA, the Emergency Support to Integration and Accommodation programme, is implemented by UNHCR and funded by the Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund of the European Union.

** The Hellenic Integration Support for Beneficiaries of International Protection (HELIOS) is implemented by IOM and funded by the Directorate General Migration and Home Affairs of the European Commission (DG HOME).