A Karam Success: Mohammed's Story
My name is Mohammed. I am from Aleppo. I was in 9th grade when the war broke out in Syria. At the time, I was preparing to take the brevet exam – a qualifying exam for high school. I was unable to continue with my studies, around this time the Assad regime was targeting schools in the area with missiles. My family was afraid for me; they feared that I would be killed or injured.
As the security situation in our village grew worse, we decided to flee to Turkey. It was the only solution at the time. Back then, Turkey was still receiving Syrian refugees. I had to leave Syria alone because I was the only son in my family, so I had to escape conscription. My family would follow me later.
I fled from my village at midnight after saying goodbye to my family. I was only 14 years old. I couldn’t bare it; I cried so much. I was so afraid to flee alone to a new country. But what helped me was the fact that I was going to stay with my aunt in her home in Turkey.
It was a long and risky journey. That night, I could see the borders which seemed close, but deep in my heart, I knew I would have to go through a lot in order to pass them.
At about 9 o’clock in the evening I reached Reyhanli. I felt such relief when I saw my relatives. But this moment was short-lived, because I knew that I had to start looking for a job. I had to earn a living to provide for myself before my family followed me to Turkey.
I found work at a sanitary warehouse – I worked there for about two months. I earned a very low wage. I started looking for another job to support myself. I decided to go to Istanbul to find work. I started a new job at a tailoring shop. It was a very exhausting job; I was on my feet all day, working 12-hour shifts.
During this time, my family managed to cross the border and arrived to Reyhanli. That is when I decided to leave Istanbul to return to Reyhanli to reunite with them. It was very difficult to provide for my family; the cost of living in Turkey was too high.
I wanted to continue my studies, but I had to continue working to provide for my family. My father was the one who supported our family, but he became very ill, so my brother and I worked to help our family.
I had to go through the same process again to find a job. Finally, I found work in a gas station and my brother found work at an electrical repair shop. Though we were very tired after work, we acted happy and smiled when we came home for the sake of our mom so that she wouldn’t feel so sorry for us.
She always knew how much we were suffering. Her eyes were always full of tears. But there was nothing we could do; it was the only solution we had to survive. What hurt me most was that my little brother was not able to sleep because of the pain in his hands from his job. His hands always hurt him because the work was so heavy on his small frame.
My family and I used to live in a very old and unsanitary house. It was one room with a wooden ceiling. One day when I was working, my mother told me to go to my aunt’s house. There, I met two people whom I will never forget. They asked me one question: “Would you like to go back to school?”
I felt something strange deep inside myself, a feeling that cannot be described. It felt like my prayers were finally answered. Without thinking I quickly said “My father cannot afford to take care of our family." “You have to care for your studies and we will do the rest” they said. And then, in no time, I was back to school. There, I took a rehabilitative course for a couple of months to be able to move forward. I decided to study hard and that is exactly what I did. I knew it would not be easy, but I stayed focused.
I passed grades 9 and 10. Now I am in grade 11 and I hope to get high marks and be the best student in the class. I am studying hard to achieve my goals. I joined Karam House to improve my skills. Over the summer I had fun at Karam House, I participated in workshops like “I want to a comedian” and other marketing workshops. During the school year I attend Karam Lab workshops. I want to be a member of Karam House and help those who are in need. My aim is to help my father. I always pray for those who helped me and helped me achieve the life that I always dreamed of.