Manal was a teacher in Syria
Updated: Aug 3, 2019
Her warm hazel eyes give me a warm smile and pull me over for a photo. "But don't publish it!" she says. Manal traveled alone with a small group from her Syrian town. Her husband had been killed.
It would be wrong to generalize refugees as uneducated. While hoping for good opportunities in European countries, for many this is a steep fall from a safe middle-class life to feeling like a beggar - a harsh blow.
So harsh that the young Syrian woman with a Masters in Marketing does not even want to talk to me about the destruction of her life. Bitterly she said, "I did everything right. I got an education. I did not marry young. I have no children yet. What good has it done me!?" She is one of the few women traveling alone and has become one of the English teachers in the small school here.
But Manal pulls me over to take a photo with her. Her smile and warm hazel eyes belie the torment she has been through. She wears a light veil and traditional dress but is outgoing and had sent me a nice smile in the café where I was helping out an hour ago. She too, has traveled alone. She had a good job as an elementary school teacher in Draa (south of Damascus) – until the war destroyed and closed the school years ago. When her husband was killed in 2013 she tried to stay in her home town hoping the war would end. After several years she decided to leave and joined a group of people from her town.
She took a bus to Damascus, from there to Homs, and into dangerous territory with warring militant groups. They went to Hama, and in Hafay near Idlib they tried to cross . They had to wait for 20 days since there was so much shooting. Finally they walked into Turkey + took a 2-day bus to Izmir. She just wants to go anywhere north in Europe. She has never remarried and has no children.
She is self-confident, talks with men and women alike. In the cafe she introduces me to two new acquaintances, Mohamad from Aleppo and Mhamad from Mosul. They came in the same boat and the dangerous experience has forged a new friendship. Read about them next.