Syrian refugees have sought asylum in Nottingham via the Vulnerable Persons Resettlement scheme
This is the Mechanic
The thing I miss most about home is the main events in Ramadan when we would all meet together at sunset. We call it breakfast, breaking the fast.
Since a peaceful protest for democratic reform turned into Civil War, Syria has been decimated. According to Shelterbox.org, one in four schools have been damaged, half of the hospitals no longer function, and millions of hectares of farmland have been destroyed, forcing half of the population to flee their homes. Some have arrived in Nottingham via the Vulnerable Persons Resettlement scheme (VPRS). Others through sheer will and determination.
We spoke to some of these people to put a face to the statistics, to remember ordinary people doing ordinary jobs and living an ordinary life were forced to leave their home. This is one of their stories. This is the mechanic.
I worked for 45 years as a mechanic. I took out motors, cleaned them, and did refits. I love fixing cars, no matter what the problem. My favourite car is a Kia, made in South Korea. I had my own business in Homs and a simple daily routine. I would wake up early, go to work, finish at seven in the evening, then take the kids out to see my sisters. I have eight sisters and I am the only boy. Since the war three are in Lebanon, four in Syria, and the other came with me to the UK in July 2016 because she is disabled and needs my support.
Comic art panel from What is Coming
I had to give up work in 2011 when the war started. I spent four years in Lebanon as a refugee before the United Nations bought us here. My family who remain in Lebanon are struggling because of racism. They have taken over one million refugees and so the Lebanese sarcastically refer to us as the majority. On television there are jokes about us, making these attitudes acceptable and normal. The political situation is getting worse too. One of my grandchildren needed an operation and medicine but my son could not afford to pay for it. So, we all work together and send over everything we have. I would love them to all be here with me, but we have no control in these things. All we can do is send money and pray.
The thing I miss most about home is the main events in Ramadan when we would all meet together at sunset. We call it breakfast, breaking the fast. I miss the weddings too. In our culture you hire a place one week before the wedding and celebrate. Men and women are kept separate. There’s lots of dancing at the wedding, with everyone together. The children particularly enjoy it. Weddings in Homs and Daraa are different. In Daraa, when men start dancing together the groom should be in the middle and all those around him throw money. But in Homs they give money in the hand, or to the father. It is a way of saying we are happy to you.
The mechanic spoke to James Walker on 29 April 2018 in Beeston, Nottingham. Maamon acted as translator.
Share this feature: Tweet