Musaab spent nine months in the shelter in Staakener Straße. After enduring an Odysee of apartment search he will finally move to a 1-Zi-Kü-Bad - flat on July 1th.
The conversation with Musaab has taken place aqt May 31, 2016
"Now, what would you do if France were to occupy Zurich or Geneva?"
There are only 80 kilometers between Damascus and the Golan Heights. The rolling country, occupied by Israel since 1967, is still recognized as Syrian territory. "You would hate France. That's how it is when your homeland is concerned."
Musaab's family is from Golan. All ten siblings were born in Damascus. All their lives they have known the desolate place with its high strategic importance only from their parents' narratives. "This is our land" - lost homeland I. If you want to drive all the way from Damascus to Golan, it will probably take 43 hours of driving for 2,766 kilometers. At least, if you take the official route Google maps is recommending. One can be faster, depending on the risk you're willing to take.Musaab and his family would lead an ordinary life. The life of an ordinary Syrian family, he says. With the only exception, that all of them - from his father to himself, the youngest of the bunch - studied French. That made them stand out.
Until the day he fled. He had been waiting for three years, observing the situation. He would have needed just one more year to graduate. A degree would have offered a better future. At a foundation he would teach children in art and painting. At 27 he fought for an ordinary life, working hard, studying, until he could no longer pass the street to university, until he would strand at checkpoints. When every day life fragmented, when people died in conflicts, two hundred, hundred, sixty - a new number every day, women and children among them. "They did not carry guns. At least children and young people should be granted clemency. Two hundred countries worldwide are incapable to stop this war. We're victims of everyone's interests."
He did not think much further than crossing the Syrian border. By bus and nonofficial cabs he escaped to Lebanon. However, that was no place for him to stay, with its environment beyond all bearing, its inacceptable conditions - socially as well as politically. He would make some money and move on, all the way to Turkey.
For seven hours the boat would float on the sea, no light and no land in sight - the Turkish coastline as distant as the Greek islands. When arriving at Samos his conscience was weak. With fever and shaking chills he fell into delirium. All along his escape there was the cold. April would assault him.
He found medical help in Serbia. He would follow the footprints of those who had spend the nights in the woods, struggling their way through the Balkan, orientating themselves along the course of a river and crossing mountains. Tramping through snow. Afraid of the police, the fingerprint, the police enforcement cameras.
The family's house at Kafr Sousa, a district of Damascus, does no longer exist. Bombs destroyed it. The memory of a childhood shared in one room with his brothers, their passion for cartoons, the daily meals are all that is left.
His journey into the dark would last one month. When he finally opened the car door he stood in Munich. "And do you have any idea what I really wanted to see? Allianz Arena - the stadium of Bayern München. That was a dream. I really wanted to take a picture with me in front of Allianz Arena. I stayed for only three hours. Then I took the bus to Berlin.
Those 30 days had been so exhausting. All I wanted was to relax. To come to rest. What ever may happen to you in Germany - you are in no danger.
I stayed for only three hours. Then I took the bus to Berlin.
Right after arrival, someone took us to LaGeSo. It was 11 o'clock at night. It was so very cold. I will never forget how cold it was. I spent the night at LaGeSo. There was a small tent but it was too cold. When spotting a nearby hospital I decided to go there. The cold was unbearable. We would lie down on the floor. But a 3 o'clock in the morning a security man showed up with his dog. He would release the dog and the dog came after us. We were told to wait outside, as waiting inside was not allowed. Okay - we slept outside. From 4 am to 10 am. Then we went inside LaGeSo to register.
We were not sent to an asylum but to the balloon, that big tent. From the balloon to Hohenzollerndamm, then Rohrdamm, followed by a hostel. It was more of a horse barn but they called it a hostel. It was no housing for humans. Then I came here. I have been here for nine months.
It has been so difficult to wait for so many months. My friends were given their residence permit a lot earlier. Those hours in front of LaGeSo from dawn till dusk, until they call your number. You go insane.
You are loosing the day. You must not think, you must forget. There is just one thought: when can I go in and when can I get out?
Now I have an apartment. That is so very important to me. My next step will be to go to school and to learn German. Then I'll see whether I go back to university or do an internship or start an apprenticeship. I really want to focus on things I need to do and things I would like to do. Everyone needs privacy and stability. Everyone.
Everywhere I stayed I was never alone. There where three, four, five others. A huge number of people. You want to study, you want to focus on your life, and you need to think about all those things that you need to do. When you study a friend a friend will listen to music or has somebody visiting - that will make you crazy and all confused. Now that I have an apartment - I sure hope this will be the beginning of something good.
My life … what can I say. I am grateful to God for being lucky. So many people die because of war. Many children, women, young people. So many are killed. To be here means I am lucky. This applies not only to Syria. It is the same with war everywhere: once you escape you are lucky. And everyone listening to what I say should think about life and be grateful to be able to live in peace. Once you live in peace there is nothing you can't do. During war your life stands still. You have to start over. That's how it is. When thinking about all those people who died due to circumstances, people who are not to blame, then you know how lucky you are."
Looking forward to our visit, Milad had carefully set the small table. There were napkins with rose design on each plate. A bright red pyramid of apples would glow, forming a lovely contrast to the airy pile of chips, and a plate filled with nuts and raisins.
Milad is aware of the fact that I'll record our conversation, to keep his story as one of the first residents at the asylum. His story, that made him a political refugee from Iran.
You know, it's my life. I keep thinking, okay, tomorrow when I wake up I have to succeed and I try. At this moment, I do not think of tomorrow, I think ten days ahead.
But sometimes, when I wake up and when I try to succeed there are so many obstacles in my way that force me to stop.
That is very depressing and I have the feeling … it is difficult to say that, however … I do not want to live anymore. I don't want to live. It's because … I have had a good life. It is destroyed now and I don't see my future life any more.
That's an awful feeling.
It's not only me; most people who live here (at the asylum) feel that way.
Every now and then we try to cheer each other up, but it won't work.
For example now … I am sitting here and I smile but there is no happiness behind my smile.
While we remain silent, Milad asks all of a sudden, "Why don't you eat?"
Each of us takes an apple. A big plush turtle is sitting on the windowsill.