Wasim, 27, has a single room on the sixth floor of Theoxenia Hotel. In the afternoon, he blasts music from through speakers connected to his smartphone. He ran a shop in the Jbela neighborhood of Deir ez-Zur, Syria, where he programmed and sold remote keys for cars. He lived in a house with his grandfather and uncles. There are seven people in his family: his mother and father, three sisters, him and his brother. His father, 55, hurt a disc in his back and went to Berlin in August 2015 for treatment and to find work. The rest of his family now lives in Kurdistan, and he talks with them every day.
In 2012, Wasim moved to Iraq. He worked sanding tables and with vents and decor. He spent four years in Iraq and learned to speak Kurdish. To get to Greece, he traveled from Kurdistan to Izmir, Turkey, then to Chios. The boat ride to Chios was difficult. The boat was packed with women and children and rocked back and forth on huge waves. Turkish police chased the boat, but did not catch them before they reached the border. Wasim stayed in Chios for six days, then moved to Camp Ritsona for six weeks. In Camp Ritsona, about an hour north of Athens, there were snakes and pigs. There he had his first interview on Skype, where he showed officials his photo and passport.
He spent four months living in Skaramangas. “For ten days, I slept in a tent outside Camp Skaramangas. I couldn’t shower, and they wouldn’t let me in because I didn’t have the right papers. My friends inside the camp found me and gave me food and shelter. I didn’t have my own food card for four months.” Finally, he talked with the organization Caritas Hellas. After a month, they entered his name in the computer and connected him with SolidarityNow. He then spent a month at Hotel Galaxias in Petrothalassa, a four-hour drive from Athens by bus. He arrived at Theoxenia Hotel in September.
Wasim’s been living in Greece for eight months and is on his way to Germany to reunite with his father. “I haven’t seen my father in two years. I miss him so much.” They haven’t told him when he is leaving yet, but perhaps next month. At Theoxenia, his balcony door does not close properly, and it gets cold at night. During the heavy rains this past weekend, water leaked into his room. Recently, during a football game, he was carrying his phone in his pocket and the football hit it, shattering the screen. It cost him 40 euros to repair his phone.
Wasim loves to work, swim, and play sports like basketball and football. He participated in the 5km race of this year’s Athens Classic Marathon as part of the first refugee team. He visits friends in Skaramangas and Exarchia. “Every day I go out to Exarchia. I’ve made friends with Germans, Italians, Egyptians, Syrians, Albanians, French, Greeks.” He met Ana, his Spanish girlfriend, in Athens as well as her friends Ramiro and Fetha from Argentina. As of December, he has been reunited with his father in Germany.