13-year-old Syrian refugee shares his journey to Canada

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Photo by photy.org

Beatings and the sweetest oranges ever are among the memories of a 13-year-old Syrian refugee now living in Canada. His identity is being withheld for safety reasons.

How long ago did you leave Syria?

I left when I was 11. We stayed in Turkey at first but the schools there were not good and my father wanted to originally come to America.

How was your experience at schools in Turkey?

It was not good. The boys there had tasers and they would bully my brothers and me. They would sometimes bring knifes to school and they threatened to harm us a lot. They were always ready for a fight. The only thing my brother and I did to them was beat them in soccer, so they stopped playing with us.

If anything, what did you do to try and stop them?

I tried telling the teachers at school but they didn’t do anything. I feel like they sided with the other boys because they spoke one language and were from the same place. Every time I spoke up for my brothers and myself, I got in trouble. Bringing tasers to school was normal to them, so they got away with it.

You said you almost went to America. What became the barrier between you and America?

America didn’t want us. I don’t know what happened, but my dad said they didn’t want us there. But in school I learned about America and I know they were afraid of me. I’m just a boy. I don’t know why you would be afraid of me.

What do you remember most about Syria?

I remember my grandmother, she passed away there. I remember one time, soldiers broke into our home and they locked my grandma up in a room and beat her. When my dad tried to help they fought him, too. I tried to help my grandma and my dad but they tied my brothers and me to chairs. They broke a lot of our things and stole what they didn’t break. But I don’t want to only share the bad memories. I remember one time my parents brought home the sweetest oranges for dinner and we all sat together and ate. I haven’t tasted oranges as sweet as those oranges yet.

What did you do after the soldiers left?

There was not much we could do. My dad was afraid that if we told people that the solders would come back and harm us. You’re the first person I’ve told about this. It was scary after they left, but I kept telling my dad to do something about it. He didn’t listen, but I understood that it was because he was scared and worried for us. I helped my grandma. She was okay but she had bruises on her back. My dad said they didn’t hurt him even though I saw them punching him. I hope one day if something like that happens people are able to do something about it.

How long have you been in Canada?

I’ve been in Canada for a year. Everyone says I speak good English. I think it’s all because of my mom, who taught me the alphabet and then listened to me reading books for hours even though I know she didn’t understand a lot of what I was saying. I know you didn’t ask but I’m thankful that Canada treats me like a person. There are a few boys who make fun of how I sound at school but I know they don’t matter.

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