Her New Life Began With a Theft on a First Date

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In summer season 2015, Maisam thought that she would quickly be beginning her second yr on the Faculty of Tremendous Arts on the College of Damascus. However then her sister Souad, whom she hadn’t seen in a yr, referred to as with stunning information: She was now not in Turkey however in Amsterdam, in search of asylum. She inspired their mom, Suhair, to comply with with Maisam, her older sister Naela, and their brother, Yousef.

With the struggle in Syria solely escalating, they hurriedly ready to depart Syria ceaselessly, making each step of the journey from Damascus to the Greek island of Kos collectively. However as soon as there, they must cut up up.

Not like most Syrians who that summer season traveled through ferry from the islands to the Greek mainland after which over land by the Balkans to northern Europe, Maisam’s household traded on their appears to be like — they’ll cross for Europeans. Whereas on Kos, they secured pretend IDs from a smuggler who assigned them Czech nationality and informed them to journey individually, as he hadn’t made them family. They booked the earliest flights they might to wherever inside Schengen Space borders. Maisam and Naela discovered tickets to Zurich. Their mom and Yousef would go away the following day after them for Brussels.

It will be the primary time Maisam would spend even a day away from her mom, and he or she took it without any consideration that inside 48 hours, your complete household could be collectively once more in Amsterdam. Sitting in a pension in Kos the night time earlier than their departure, Maisam painted her nails.

The following morning, she and Naela separated as quickly because the taxi dropped them off on the airport. They pretended to not know one another and by no means made eye contact. Ought to one get caught, the opposite would hold going. Maisam was nervous in regards to the deception — she had by no means been to an airport by herself — however imitated the conduct of others. Although each sisters have been capable of board, they solely acknowledged one another within the toilet within the Zurich airport, the place they hugged and turned into hotter garments. The toughest half, they thought, was now behind them.

As an alternative, 15 hours after bidding their mom and brother goodbye and about eight hours till they have been to reunite with Souad, the plan fell aside. They have been on the prepare that will carry them throughout Germany to the Netherlands, when the identical pretend IDs that had labored so nicely in Greece have been detected on the Swiss-German border checkpoint. German police now had them underneath arrest. Sitting within the police station, Maisam realized it was over, particularly when she noticed her sister Naela — who had saved it collectively all their lives, from bearing the brunt of their father’s rage, to planning their mom’s escape from the wedding, to getting them this far — fall to items.

Because the youngest daughter, Maisam not often needed to bear the total weight of the household’s burdens, at the same time as, within the years earlier than their departure from Syria, each her nation and her mother and father’ marriage unraveled. Each disasters had led to a number of displacements, first to Jordan, then to smaller and smaller residences in Damascus as her father withdrew any monetary assist and her mom’s financial savings and sisters’ earnings dwindled. By all of it — the completely different faculties, cities and homes — Maisam’s bond together with her siblings and particularly her mom was steadfast. “I used to be simply completely satisfied to have everybody,” she says. “I by no means felt lonely.”

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