“I want to study and become something in life”
Said wears nothing but a smile. He is 26 years old and comes from Syria; he is supported through SolidarityNow’s Accommodation Program in Thessaloniki. “My name in Arabic means happiness”, he says. “Are you a happy person?”, we ask him. “Yes I am. I grew up like this. I try with my jokes to make people smile, in any case we only have this life to live”, he notes. In addition to this, Said has dreams and believes that people can achieve the impossible. One of his goals was to learn Greek, and he is already doing so.
It is Monday and we are at the Thessaloniki Solidarity Center. Said is on time for his interview with us. We sit on a red sofa and talk about Damascus, his place of origin, his life there, his family, his journey to Greece and his new start in Thessaloniki. Said has studied economics, but his great passion is computers. When he was living in Syria he had his own shop where he was repairing mobiles and computers. In fact, as he tells us, he has made his own electronic game. He was so absorbed by his passion that he was not eating, sleeping and even not attending his lessons at the University. He didn’t graduate on time, but as he says, he did it deliberately because in Syria during the war you only had 3 choices: to go to the army or to study or to leave the country. Said graduated and then fled from Syria.
Syria, Turkey, Greece and specifically Mytilene, and after living one year on the island, he went to Thessaloniki. This was the path that Said followed, a difficult path indeed, but our friend never lost his hope. “I want to live in Greece, that’s why I am learning Greek. I do not want to go back to Syria. Syria has finished for me”, he says. It has been 3 years since he came to Greece. During this time, he experienced various feelings, from despair and loneliness to optimism; that was what saved him. Today, he attends Greek courses at the School of Modern Greek Language of the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki. “Aphrodite, my social worker, helped me a lot. I told her that I want to learn Greek and with her assistance I was registered for the Greek classes. If you want to be helped, you have to ask for help», says Said, who is at A1 level. “I want to speak Greek, to be able to understand, I do not want to be in the shadow. I want to study and become something in life”, he adds.
His dream is to become a social worker. He believes that the knowledge of the arabic language and his experiences as a refugee, will help him. “I know the people who are coming here, I know their problems, I was one of them. I like to help them. Aphrodite helped me a lot and I want to be like her”, he underlines.
“You know … when you’re a good guy, good things will happen to you”, he adds with wisdom, while our conversation is coming to an end. “The Greeks are trying to help you, but you have to help yourself first. Life is ours; it is my life, I will live my life for me”.
*Said is hosted in the frame of SolidarityNow’s Accommodation structure in Thessaloniki operated under the ESTIA – the Emergency Support to Integration and Accommodation program, implemented by the UNHCR and funded by the European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations (ECHO).