Blog Home

Medical Teams Blog: Stories of boldly breaking barriers to health

Sign up to receive the blog directly to your email inbox

Syrian Refugee Crisis, Part 1: A Personal Look

by Emily Crowe | Apr 21, 2016

WALID'S STORY - PART 1: This story is straight from the field - One of our team members, Carmen, met Walid and his family, Syrian refugees, in Greece. This is part one of their story- check out Part Two here.

Walid's wife and their youngest child, Muhammad, share a heartwarming moment in Greece. Fighting near their home forced them to flee, and they're enduring heartbreaking, dangerous conditions to find safety for their family.

When will the bombing end?

Walid remembers when he and his family lived “fine and peacefully” in Aleppo, the city they called home in Syria. As a metalworker, he was never unable to provide for his family.

When the first of the fighting began, they felt the dangers of living in the country—yet somehow a sense of safety and stability remained. Quickly, Walid and his wife Reem could see that the explosions and violence [were] growing more and more erratic. He remembers hearing the news that spread in the city when 20-30 civilians were killed in Aleppo as a result of the violence… For one month they did not leave home because of the fear of getting hurt, or even killed.

The violence only continued to grow more intense. There was fighting day and night—all happening about four kilometers from their home.

…With tears filling his eyes, he [Walid] said he was terrified the rebels would come to their house and rape or kill his wife and daughters. At that point, he knew there was no other option - they must take the risk and leave Aleppo in order to keep everyone safe. Walid and Reem decided they must all flee and escape to Europe.

A dangerous, necessary decision

The family, he shares, are all here at the site together.

It cost them 300 Euros each just to get to the Turkish-Syrian border via the city of Azez. Then, two months ago, it was very cold when they were trying to cross. If someone did not invite them to sleep in their car for the night, they would end up sleeping on the streets.

On the fourth day of their journey the family reached Turkey. Because of the poor sleeping conditions, the travel had already become very taxing on Walid and his family, especially the children.

For a few nights they stayed in a cow stable hiding. If they got caught, they risked being sent back to Syria. Hiding in the stable cost them 200 Euros each for the few days they were there.

Most of Walid’s family lost their shoes and other clothing on the journey as they ventured through heavy rains and muddy ground.

In order to get everyone to the next city on their journey, they were all stuffed in a small cargo truck with people stacked on each other.

By the time they reached the next point on the trip, they were all put in a garage, divided in to groups based on their destination. The smuggler had them leave the garage bit by bit so the police didn't see where they were going.

Read Part Two: Waiting in fear, losing hope >>