Ahmad, 25 years old

I come from Tel Kelekh, in the province of Homs. I was studying at university in Aleppo while living in Tel Kelekh. A lot of my friends had stopped attending courses because the roads had become too dangerous. I moved to Aleppo to study but when the war intensified, I moved back to Tel Kelekh. The situation became more dangerous which meant that we had to maneuver a lot to avoid clashes along the way. The road was very rough. When I arrived to Tel Kelekh the bombing would not stop during the day and at night, snipers were everywhere. It was impossible to get in or out of town. 10 days later, they opened the road so I left immediately. My parents stayed. I came to Lebanon in August 2012 through the official northern border: Al-Dabboussyiah. The first and last checkpoints were the most difficult. My brother was wanted and his name was written on the wanted people’s list. They started asking me about him and I was worried that they would arrest me instead. I lied and said that I did not know where he was. I thank God that one of my relatives was with me at the time and he knew all the officers; he helped me cross.

I was lost when I arrived in Lebanon. All I had was a plastic bag with everything I was able to bring with me from Syria: a few shirts and a few pairs of pants. I stayed at my cousin’s for a couple of days. Then I moved to a chalet by the sea. It was abandoned. I was all alone there, no people around, no electricity, and no water. It was owned by an acquaintance of mine and he allowed me to stay for nothing in return. I would lock myself inside because I felt it was dangerous, nobody would hear me if anything happened. I would lock myself in until sunrise. Later on, I rented a house in Tripoli.

The really important thing that I brought with me was the first cell phone SIM card I had ever used. I have kept it with me even after I lost that line. I can still remember the number!

In our house in Syria there was a room that we used for my father’s books. He was obsessed with them. I was not interested in books. I regret not paying more attention to this fortune we had at the time. I wish I had brought at least a few books with me. I became more interested in reading here.

I work with an organization which offers social support to children. I also participate in different activities like theater and photography.

There is a lot of misery in Lebanon. I am not happy but I grew accustomed to it. One feels more at ease at home. Here, you have to pay for rent while back in Syria, it was your own property. The problem is ensuring the rent. And the price difference is important. There is also the safety issue. Lots of Syrians are subject to attacks…

I am waiting for my travel documents so that I can go to Australia. My fiancé is of Australian nationality and I am trying to join her. I cannot go back to Syria anymore. I have no one to see there. All the people that I knew have left the country. Nothing is the same anymore. There are still millions of divides between the people there and everyone will keep fighting. I would not like to go back there. Not now, not even in 10 or 20 years.