Kiron Open Higher Education is a nonprofit organization whose goal is to provide refugees with the opportunity to get higher education. Kiron is a grantee of Project Reconnect, an initiative from NetHope and Google.org that provided 25,000 Chromebooks to nonprofits supporting refugees in Germany. Kiron makes the laptops from Project Reconnect available to students in local study centers or as loaner devices.
My name is, Achmed, but people just call me Med. I am from Damascus, but I am a global citizen. Before leaving Syria, I studied bio-mechanical engineering and English literature, and worked for the Red Cross and the Ministry of Health. I was not allowed to leave the country, so I had to escape.
I left in 2015. My family is still in Syria. My father, who was a carpenter, got arrested.My mother is by herself now. My little brother, who is only 15 years old, got arrested as well, when he was on his way back home from school. My second brother lives with his wife, who is a nurse, and their newborn son in the area of the city controlled by the rebels, so they are not allowed to leave. It is very difficult.
I came to Turkey, then Lesbos, Greece, by boat, then Athens, Macedonia, Serbia, Croatia, Slovenia, Salzburg, Austria, and Munich. It has been very tough with the procedure for granting the right of asylum. I first came to Eisenhüttenstadt, near Frankfurt Oder. There, I was confronted with a lot of racism and fear, and of course, a lot of German bureaucracy. Then I came to Schwedt – that´s in the middle of nowhere. The problem is, when you live at a sports hall, you do not have internet or a computer. So, it was very hard to study online there.
I was so lucky to receive a sponsored laptop from Project Reconnect, which helps me with my studies. At the moment, I am taking German language courses with Kiron. It is really useful! Kiron means something good! It means learning and it means flexibility. My dream is to study and get my certificate, so I can work for a big company one day: A medicine company for medical supplies. Kiron will help me to follow this dream.
Today I live in Eberswalde. It is close to Berlin. I really like Berlin. In the streets of Berlin people are just people, without crazy thoughts or prejudice. I do not get looked at with a strange look and I don’t feel weird. I hate prejudice, but I think people need boxes they can think in. The story about the Berlin Wall made me think a lot about frontiers, fences and borders, segregation, and separation. I hate walls and frontiers!
It is hard, this new life. My injury is war. You try to look ahead, but war is always there, it is always at your side and never leaves your mind. It is like a curtain that cannot be lifted and that blurs reality and presence.
I have a language salad in my head at the moment: German, English, and so many more. I have been around people from many different countries, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and more. But I have become quite good at body language – you learn to talk to each other without using words. All human hearts speak the same language! My wish for this world is that humans can be humane.
If this story inspires you and you would like to invest in NetHope’s work supporting refugees like Achmed, we welcome your donation.
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