Waiting for the reunion
“What will happen to us? Have you seen the burning refugee camps in France? Can something similar happen in Germany?” All of these questions I’ve heard from Syrian refugees in the past few days at the hotel where we are now housed. The hotel’s owner has just informed us that the dining hall, which is located outside the hotel, will be locked by 10 pm from now on. Apparently, for fear of attacks by extremists who disapprove of refugees in Koblenz.
As I was informed that I would be transferred from Kusel to Koblenz, I felt better because I knew that this would be the first step to finally have a home of our own. When I noticed completely unexpectedly in Koblenz that we would be accommodated in a hotel, where we had to share the kitchen and dining room with others, it did not bother me much.
However, since then the owner repeatedly surprised us with his actions: he would enter our room, no matter whether we are there or not, and does not ask for permission to come in either. He would forbid us to eat or drink something in our room. From time to time, he would turn the heating off completely at night.
Apart from the initially described fear that made the rounds among the refugees, I wonder if all these obstacles I am facing now might eventually deprive me of the satisfaction that came with having taken the first step towards an apartment of our own.
The wait itself is draining; especially the wait for being able to start your new life after all that you went through; in Syria and while seeking refuge through Europe. However, being confronted once again with the fear, that you thought you had escaped, makes the wait it even harder.
At different times each day, I call my two children, who were left behind in Turkey. This is my only chance to be together with them, at least to a small extent. The fact that from time to time an Internet connection during my escape was and even now still is difficult, does not make the whole situation any better.
We often laugh while we talk, but we also cry together. Especially when my children ask me if I could already tell them how we could be reunited, or how long it would take. Or when my 13-year-old daughter Sara tells that she had dreamed about how she had waited at the airport in a blue dress waiting to fly to me. Or when she says that she often cries because she misses her home and feels lost in a place where her mother cannot be close to her. When I hear this from her, I can hardly speak.
My conversations with my 16-year-old son Obada are slightly different. He is not crying but is also struggling to cope with the fact that he is far away from his mother. He has been thinking about returning to Syria because waiting in Turkey to meet again with me appears too hard on him. When he realized how futile such thoughts are, he began to wonder whether he should not take the same escape route like me, to be with me as soon as possible. “I’m young enough to master this effort,” he said. And: “I simply cannot wait here any longer. Let me do that, and then we wait together until Sara also can come to us.”
Unfortunately, I cannot give my children an exact date for our reunion; not even a promise that I would be capable to keep. The only thing that remains for me to do is to give them new hope and comfort in our long conversations every day. There is nothing more that I can do.
For refugees, waiting means to yearn for the date when they get their official papers in court; it also means valuable time to learn German in order to subsequently be able to work. Since I am a refugee myself, I share this particular meaning of waiting.
But for me, it also means that only the reunion with my children will heal my heart and make it beat again. Only then I truly can say that our new life without fear has begun.