Amina  ·  Syria

Belonging: A Math Teacher and a Mother

I have missed three years of their lives. I will never get them back.

Writing by Twila Bird
Photography by Lindsay Silsby
Translation by Yasmine Kataw
Amina Children 1

I came from Syria from the city of Aleppo. I was a math teacher in Aleppo’s high schools. There is a very big war in Syria and it is very, very big in Aleppo. I feared the killing and death of my boys; therefore, I came to Germany.

I have four boys and my husband. We escaped the war and the destruction from the warplanes. We went to Turkey then, because we had only enough money for two to travel, my youngest son and I came to Germany.

My three underage boys and my husband remain in Turkey waiting for the German government to help bring them to Germany. Yes, I went from Syria to Turkey. I stayed there for almost a month then I went to Greece on the inflatable boat by sea, then from Greece to Macedonia in cars, then from Macedonia to Serbia to Croatia on trains and buses, then from Croatia to Slovenia, then to Austria also by trains and buses, then to Germany.

I stayed in three different camps then came to this house, which is only for women and their children. There are twenty-six people in this house, all from Syria. Eleven are children. We have difficulty not having any privacy, a place where we can be comfortable. That is the biggest problem that we suffer. My older boys are living on their own with their father in Turkey. They are fourteen and two of them are thirteen years old. They need me and I need them. My husband could not find work. Only my boys work. One of them works at night and that is very bad because he is fourteen years old. At this age, he needs a lot of sleep so he can grow, not staying up all night. He needs as much sleep as possible at this age and he works all night. My other boys work during the day for twelve hours and sometimes fourteen hours. One of them works in a sweets bakery and the other works in a supermarket. He carries water to the sixth floor in buildings and he gets very tired and the water falls from his hands. My children’s childhood is what saddens me most. My children’s childhood has gone with the war. Right now they are not living out their childhood because they are working twelve or fourteen hours. I want them to come to Germany so they can go back to school to study and play like the other children.

057 2016 Amina Baraa Ls 3
2016 Lindsay Silsby: Amina and her youngest son

I also wish for my youngest son here to live in his father’s arms. He misses his father and brothers very much. He is suffering and feels a lot of pain for his father and brothers. He is very very sad, very sad. He cannot play like the other children. He is always thinking about his father and brothers.

I’ve been here for eight months and I haven’t gotten my [asylum] interview. I hope that my interview can take place as fast as possible so I can determine my future and my children’s future. I wish to obtain the residency so I can get work to help my family come to Germany.

My children and husband need a lot of money for papers we don’t have, passports and ID’s. All our important papers were lost in the demolished house. We don’t have official documents. Therefore, we are in need of a lot of money to renew and be able to obtain these documents. I had lots of strength and I risked going out to sea in the middle of the night. My son and I went out to the sea. I was very strong in order to open up a future for my children in Germany away from the war, away from destruction, away from everything. I know Germany is a lawful country and a country that is just, giving rights to all people without discrimination. Therefore, I turned to Germany to help my children have a new future. I also want to make a new future in Germany. I want to study all over again. I have a wish I was not able to fulfill since I was a child in Syria and that is studying medicine. I hope to fulfill this wish in Germany.

I hope this message has reached all who have a merciful heart who can help my children and husband come here. Lord, God willing.

057 2018 Amina Tb 1368
2019 Lindsay Silsby: Reunited
057 2018 Amina Tb 1366
2019 Lindsay Silsby: Proud to show her story

UPDATE: Fifteen months after arriving in Germany, Amina was granted asylum for one year. She was not able to reunite with her family at that time, she first had to demonstrate she was learning the language and trying to integrate. A judge allowed for the family’s reunification in November 2018. After three years of waiting, Amina was reunited with her husband and sons in Germany.

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