Making Home Away

So I sat them down and told them: the five of us are here, me, you and your father, wherever the five of us are, that place should be your heaven.
Discover their stories

Amira's Departure

Current 'Home' Coventry, UK

Amira describes her sense of indecision and fear, on being told she could travel to the UK with her children:

"They give me the date where I coming UK.  I told them ok.  But my heart was burning. I said to my friend, “Oh my God how can I do, maybe I go? Yes, no.” Every day I told them yes, no. One month, one day I called the UN.  I told them I wanted to cancel my travel.  The lady, she told me, “Amira, you have one chance. If you cancel you never go.” I told them, no problem, because if I go I would never see my mom again, never.  Maybe my mom, she could come to Lebanon, and I can see my mom.  For this reason I told them (I won't go to the UK) but they said to me, it’s ok.  

I cancel Saturday, Sunday.  On Monday I went to my job as normal. The children went to school. 

(Then) one of the guys where I live, the father, an old man... he liked me. He supported me. He told me, “Ah, Amira you are crazy. Why did you cancel your travel?” While I was talking with him, my phone rang, it was the UN.  One lady, she knew about my story.  She said to me: “Amira why are you not at the airport, why did you cancel? (Where is) the future for you and your children? Seriously it's not in Lebanon. Get out of Lebanon. Are you ready?" I told her, “I am ready”... but I am not ready, my children were at school. She told me “If you get ready quickly you will get to the airport.”  I told her ok. 

I was coming from work, not far. I sat on the sofa. I was eating nuts. I did not believe.  (Should) I go or no?  I was waiting with my phone, 15 minutes.  I see it ring. They told me “You have one hour.” Oh my god, quickly I go (to find) this man, the old man. They lived in the third flat, mine was the second.  Quickly he opened the door. I told him “quickly, quickly I will go now.”  He said to me, “Are you crazy?” He told me, the man, “It’s ok".

I called my sister, looking for a taxi from Beirut. She told me “What is happening? Are you crazy?” She told me “Stop”.  Nobody believed me at the time. I told her, “I'm coming. I'm coming.”  The old man told me he would take me in his car to my sister's house.  The bus was coming. My children were coming from the school. They had their bags. I left the bags (behind), for my sister's children. What (did) I bring... just (the children) in their clothes. I bring nothing."

This UNHCR fact sheet explains the difference between asylum seeker and refugee status in the UK.  The Refugee Council provides information on Syrian refugee resettlement in the UK, including the support they provide to refugees rebuilding their lives in new places.

Amira's only luggage - a small bottle of perfume - the smell reminds her of her husband, who was killed in Syria.  As she says: '(When) I think of coming back (to) my country, (to) my house, (I think) all things (would) still (be the) same but nothing is, all thing gone, all thing gone.  I just bring this perfume because (of) what happened'.  Image and copyright Vicki Squire.

 

KALWINDER SANDHU & VICKI SQUIRE

This extract is from an interview conducted in 2020 by Kalwinder Sandhu with supervision by Vicki Squire, as part of the British Academy funded ‘Lost and Found: A Digital Archive of Migration, Displacement and Resettlement’ project’s Making Home Away archive.

Jamila

Current 'Home'
Coventry, UK

Wafa

Current 'Home'
Coventry, UK