Omar Mohamed and his wife, Sevene, a young Arabic-speaking Syrian couple at Katsikas camp had gone through the Greek island camp, Samos. With a Syrian-American volunteer named Nabeel interpreting for us, I interviewed Omar and Sevene in their clean but sparse container. They offered us tea when we entered and the only two chairs as they sat on a covered mattress on the floor and began to tell us about their journey.
Omar, an auto mechanic, and Sevene have been in the refugee camp Katsikas since they fled Syria five years ago.
They were living in Aleppo when their apartment and everything they owned was destroyed by a bomb attack. Like many other survivors, they fled to the city of Afrin. Because so many other survivors had come to Afrin as well, they were only able to find part-time, low-paying jobs. They lived there, barely getting by, for four years. During that time they had a baby, and when the baby was a year old, they left Afrin for Turkey.
In Turkey, Omar found work right away, but when payday came, his employers wouldn’t pay him. With their dwindling savings, he paid smugglers to take them by boat to the Greek island of Samos.
At the now notorious refugee camp at Samos, they found thousands of refugees living in terrible conditions with unsanitary and inadequate food, water and toilets. They lived in a small tent with their son. When Sevene found herself pregnant again, they saw a way out. Finally after 2 ½ months they found a social worker who helped Sevene get the papers she needed from the hospital, to verify that she was pregnant. It was only then that they were able to transfer to mainland Greece and were brought to Katsikas.
This was in late December 2017. Now two months later, they said they want to learn the Greek language and would take any educational opportunities they could find and were willing to do any kind of work. Meanwhile, like everyone else in the camp, they wait with dreams of being able “to make a living and raise their growing family in peace.”
Volunteer Cathy, February 2018