Islam, 24 years old

We came to Lebanon in 2011, originally to visit my aunt’s family for what was supposed to be a 4 day stay. We did not know that those days were going to turn into years. I am Palestinian and used to live in the camp of Daraa with my family. When we arrived here people called us from home and told us that the situation was getting worse. They advised my father not to come back. And that is what happened… We stayed.

We did not bring much because we did not know we were going to stay. I brought an old 5 Syrian Pound banknote with me. I had kept it since 9th grade. I had asked all my friends at the time to write me something on it as a souvenir for me to always remember them. I have kept it in my wallet ever since.

I communicate with 2 of them whenever I can until this day. They are still in Daraa and problems with the communication networks often stand in the way of us keeping in touch.

Before we came to stay in Lebanon, we first went to Damascus to my grandparents’ house and from there to Aramoun. We stayed at my aunt’s house for about 2 months. Then we went to Chatila camp in Beirut where my father rented a house. However the situation in Chatila is very bad. There are lots of very tiny streets and alleys and no good medical services. The water is salty… very bad… a life and environment that we are not used to.

After 5 months we moved to Bourj el-Barajneh camp but during our stay in Chatila I came across the Najda Now organization and started working with them. Now I teach the children there. Before we came here I was in my first year at the faculty of Economy and Commerce but when we left Syria I had to drop out. I was very sad about it. My work with the children comforts me a little. I wish I could go back to Syria to complete my studies.

I wish people could be more understanding. Especially now that we are in Lebanon I wish they would legalize our situation. In the end, we are just guests here and the country is small. There is not much potential for us here. It is not our fault that we had to run away from war and death, blood and murder. We do not ask for much. Simply to have papers which allow Palestinians and Syrians to come into Lebanon and visit their families. I wish for us to also be able to enter Syria to see our relatives.