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Syrian refugees have sought asylum in Nottingham via the Vulnerable Persons Resettlement scheme

This is a father and son

The hardest thing about leaving Syria was saying goodbye to my friends. Friends are so important, especially when you are a teenager.

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 a father and son.


I lived in Damascus and worked as an electrician. I did this for 35 years. I worked for a very big company who employed about 250 people. We made cookers, fridges, washing machines and then sold them, mainly to Italy. We were a big team, all working together to create new appliances for homes around the world. It was a very creative job. I had a good life with many friends. We constantly visited each other, taking it in turns to cook for each other. This is a lot of cooking as there may be five families meeting up at a house each time. And the conversations we had could last all night and into the morning. We try to do this a bit in England, but it isn’t the same. Life is different here. You can’t use the time the same. I volunteered to help do maintenance at my son’s school – fixing some walls and wires, and now I have a job there.

Comic art panel from What is Coming


The hardest thing about leaving Syria was saying goodbye to my friends. Friends are so important, especially when you are a teenager. We lived in Jordan for three years before we came to the UK and I had to say goodbye to new friends I had made there. When I came to the UK I couldn’t speak English, so it was very difficult to make new friends. And there were no Syrian boys my age to be friends with either. There were one or two, but that doesn’t mean you will automatically have things in common to make the friendship. But now I have one best friend. Sometimes I sleep over at his house or he sleeps at mine. We go on trips together and visit new places. We usually go to cafes and new places. Last week we went to Loughborough. Then Sheffield. We are trying to find other places and discover things. I don’t want to sound greedy, but we would like more friends. People my age need five or six friends to be a proper community and laugh together and have big adventures.

Recently we went on a summer camp with the British Army so we could learn how to live without our parents. We didn’t learn to shoot or anything like that, they just showed us how to sleep wild for four nights. It was so good, learning how to wake up early in the morning, 5am, then go walk for 5kms and back, have breakfast, then do different things, learn things. We made our own tents, slept outside, cooked food and became independent. I felt so happy.

My dad is an electrician, so I want to learn from him because he has this knowledge. But my main dream is to be a plane engineer. I am studying engineering now. I applied for the course and it starts next year. The course is for general engineering, two years, then I have to do another course in ICT, then physics, then another two years. It is a lot of work to be a plane engineer. I don’t have a good reason for liking planes other than when I was in Jordan. Our house was near the airport. From my window I could see planes take off. I would watch them for hours, so I guess this is where the idea comes from.

Father and son spoke to James Walker on 29 April 2018 in Beeston, Nottingham. Maamon acted as translator.

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