Refugees, from Eritrea to Syria

2017-04-19

An interview with a Refugee during the gathering (Photo: Alessandra Santopadre)We present you some testimonies gathered following the fraternal meeting of April 6 between the Archbishop and more than twenty refugee families.


Lia fled Eritrea in the middle of the night. She succeeded, with help from smugglers, to cross the Sudan border and find asylum in the capital, Khartoum. From there, she went on to Egypt.

- "Where is it that you were trying to go?"
- "To Israel," answered Issak Woldu, her sponsor, and translator for the evening. He was also a refugee from Eritrea, and has been living here for several years.

- "Why Israel?"
- "There, there is work for everyone, and they don't hassle us with work permits."

Lia walked 9 hours in the Sinai desert before finally arriving in Tel-Aviv. She was not the only Eritrean there! That is where she met Yohannes, who she later married. They both successfully applied for refugee status. They arrived in Montreal on March 20, 2017.

- "But that was only two weeks ago!"
- Issak sighed, "...Yes, I know..."

Lia's eyes became a little brighter. She smiled shyly. Tall, beautiful, but fragile, I asked her how she was able to survive all of that? Issak translated the question... In response, Lia pointed up to Heaven.

Basam Beroutic arrived from Syria in April 2016 with his wife, Gada, and their two sons, Sami, aged 16, and Fadi 13. Gada speaks French fluently, which was already the case when they lived in Aleppo. Gada had her own dental practice. Basam was an accountant. One morning, a bomb blew up their home and clinic. From one day to the next, there was nothing left.

- "Was anyone killed?"
- "Yes... I saw my sister, on the ground, her throat slit..."

Basam stopped speaking.

- "What did you see, Basam?"
- "Everything..." "I saw everything... Sorry...there are no words," he mumbled.

Danie, one of the many volunteers, had gone up to the microphone a few minutes earlier and said that it wasn't by obligation that she had decided to host refugees: "We didn't host refugee families because we were told that we had to, or because we felt obligated to do so as Christians, but for a reason far greater than that - it was a call that came from the very depths of our hearts."  

Fadi, would you like to return to your home in Aleppo after the war is over?

"Our lives are so good here. I never want to go back. This is my home now. If the war in Syria ends next year, well, it will just start again in 30 years, or 40 years... It never ends."

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