HOW I FOUND MY PERFECTION WHEN I BECAME A REFUGEE
My name is Yasser Alahwal, I’m from the country that was destroyed in a war to freedom under the name of God, Syria. For two and a half years I experienced how to survive on the edge of life and death, I learned why in war there are no winners. I had to pay to live and the price was to choose between the life I built or losing everything. I decided to lose my name as citizen and to become a refugee. As human being I learned the meaning of trying and never giving up. I left my country believing that to get I had to lose first.
In the following two years I have seen and learned a lot living in both Lebanon and Jordan without any hope to get the status as refugee. I set my goal and the way to my destiny. My choice was to go to the Netherlands, which I didn’t have any knowledge about, more than it’s in Europe and the capital is Amsterdam. Through the rough sea I started my journey towards the unknown, facing death on my way to a new life.
I arrived to the Netherlands in September 2015. In the beginning I had to stay in refugee camps, with fellow Syrians and people from all over the world. I finally took the first step to get the status as refugee, I was so excited that I was going to reacquire everything I had lost. Not knowing what my future was going to be like, my mind was focused on my wishes and ambitions for the future. The authorities interviewed me, asking questions about my background, after that there was nothing left to do but wait.
The war forced many people to flee their countries, I sure wasn’t the only one who chose to bet on his life. I was just another person like thousands of others who were looking for hope. Waiting in a camp alongside other asylum seekers wasn’t too bad in the beginning, we shared a lot of stories and laughter together However, after a month I had spent all the money I had. The authorities offered me everything for free even food until I would get the required paperwork to get the status as a refugee. With no possibility to work before getting the documents. Living without money for five months taught me a valuable lesson, it was a difficult time for me because I had to ask for help. I had food, water and save place to sleep but I had to do it, because our idea of perfection requires more than what we really need.
As I came from religious society I was always thinking about the heaven we dream about, asking myself: Do we need perfection in the afterlife or it’s the perfection here? Looking back on living without money, I learned that even if we have everything we need as human being, we will keep looking for perfection.
The perfection of Paradise
After 8 months of surviving I eventually got the status as refugee in the Netherlands, I could take the second step to find out in which city I was going to live. As a refugee you will get a city assigned by the authorities. But, first I moved to another camp after I got the status confirmed. I attended a few meetings to learn more about the Dutch culture and lifestyle . I realized I had to learn to accept ideas very different from the religious background I came from. The perfection of paradise wasn’t far from my mind at that time. I started thinking about what I was taught by religion and why? I knew I made the right choice coming here.
Finding my perfection
However, there were more important things on my mind, the day I would get assigned a city of residence in the Netherlands had finally come. I heard plenty of stories about the interviewer, in a nutshell people in camp said he was a Jewish man who didn’t like Arabic refugees. Personally my experience with jewish and Israeli people has always been good, I didn’t understand what the people in camp meant, but i was optimistic. Full of excitement I went to interview. He introduced himself as Mark and since we both didn’t speak the same language, there was a translator present on the phone. I was anxious until he asked me the first question: “What are you looking for?” Without thinking I decided to say everything people in camp advised me not to say. I answered: I’m looking for place where I can learn! I forgot about my fear and stress. I didn’t know the reason at that time, but I felt calm. Mark liked my answer but he wanted to test my believe in myself, he talked about small villages, with elderly people and other secluded areas. I was calm and answered: “Any save place where I can lay my head down is good enough for me”. I could hear that he was surprised, but I understood that he enjoyed the conversation with me. Before I left I told Mark that I liked his personality and I enjoyed talking to him. He said that not all of people think about him like that, for a second I lost my confidence, but I answer him that I never build my expectations on experiences from others. I don’t compare and that’s why I’m special. I truly didn’t understand where my mind brought these words from, but Mark was convinced and he asked: “Where do you think is the best place for you to learn?” I shared with him that I wanted to go to Amsterdam. When I saw him writing AMSTERDAM in his file I felt a sense of relief. My interview with Mark was a life lesson that I didn’t understand at that time. Now I see that when I didn’t look for perfection and appreciated everything I had, I got what I wanted and reached my goal.
Moving to Amsterdam
Within three months, I got my apartment in Amsterdam. I moved in on the 5th of October 2016, where I started a new chapter. This is one of the greatest experiences of my life so far, with many more to come.