Blog Zena Izbeglica B92

WLOG 003: From twilight to Belgrade

Walking, taking winter clothes off, resting, putting clothes on, walking, dinner, walking, taking clothes off, putting children to bed, sleeping.

Source: B92

A lot of sleep. After the nuisance in camp that lasted for five months, we were able to move to an apartment. Again, from scratch. New beginning.

Written by: Jasmin Dajan

Foto: Malmo - "Non-Violence"

The daughters started school. And so did I. I joined a language school, to learn Swedish. Five times a week, two hours per day, I was sitting alongside ten other people, most of them from Syria, listening to CDs, with slight cracking of the speakers, words like: god eftermiddag, hus, familj, kung, broccoli... [1]

Photo: Maria Eklind, Looking up

The word kärlek I acquired easily. It meant love. In Swedish, as in any other language, there are several ways to say love. The teacher tried to explain this to us once. But we were all too demotivated and tired to be able to understand even half of the words. Kärlek. I guess the plenty of ways to say love is associated with variety of ways one can express it. I thought of my husband. We would talk on the phone from time to time. One morning, I went to the migration office and filed application for family reunification. Familjeåterförening. So we would have hushåll. [2]

The procedure took a while. Eighteen months later, he came. It took us one and a half year to organize a family reunification. It was really hard to wait. But when he came it was a moment of the greatest relief I remeber. Perhaps the most beautiful moment in my life. I thought our torment was over. That we could start our life in peace. Again, from scratch. New beginning.

Photo: Poliuszko, Malmo Ribersborgsstranden

We started new life. Each of us had own obligations and everything was going well. Until tomorrow. When everything turned upside down and got ruined. Just when we thought 'this is it'. Just when we thought never again. Nevermore.

It happened that they have found my driving license in the system. My Serbian driving license. That I have never used. I had Serbian citizenship because of my mother who was Serbian though I lived whole my life in Syria. I had a driving license because I was in Belgrade once and I registered my Syrian license so I could drive. They realized I have another citizenship but Syrian. They realiezed I had citizenship of Serbia.

"But I have never lived there", I said.

"Madam, this does not concern us. You are a burden to our system. Börda för vårt system."

"But I'm a refugee. I ran from war."

"Which war? There is no war in your country."

"You have got to be kidding me. There is a war in Syria. Watch the news. Titta på nyheterna", I lost my mind.

"In Serbia there is no war. At least not at the moment."

"But I have no one in Serbia."

"Serbia, Syria, it's all the same. You'll manage."

Photo: VV Nincic, Belgrade, Serbia

I was about to be deported. They accused me of lying. That I kept silent about my Serbian citizenship, so I could come to Sweden. One of the superiors wanted to have a talk with me. They demanded of me to renounce my Serbian citizenship. They asked me to testify against Serbia and to write a statement saying that the country did not allow me to apply for asylum.

"But that is not true. I’ve never asked for protection in Serbia", I replied.

"Just write it. For your children's sake. Who cares about Serbia."

"But I have nothing against the country. I have never lived there, bit it is as mine as it is Syria."

"Syria is no more. It is better that you remain in Sweden. For your children's sake."

That's when I made my decision. After three years in Sweden, someone is asking me to give up everything because of my children's sake. The Swedish people are using my children. Syrian children that whole world talks about, that lost their home, school and childhood. They are using Syrian children to impose on me what to do. This country produces weapons that kills in my country. Maybe it is the weapon that exploded in Beirut. And after that, WE are to blame, the Syrians are to blame.

I left Sweden.

Photo: Jovan Markovic, U Gotta Message

My husband was kept. He couldn't be deported because he doesn't have any relations to Serbia. A refugee. He's okay. OK. Rätt. He got documents. He had to wait. Is it possible that they will separate us again? We are the reason he came to Sweden. We are separated again. This time because of me. The children and father, him, are being separated again. Again, after everything. After so much sadness.

We arrived to Serbia. The children and myself. We were not alone. We carried so much sadness with us. And two half empty suitcases. I didn't know where to go. Where to start. The airport was small, but again I didn't know where to go. Yet, someone was waiting for us here. My Mum's best friend from childhood was at the airport. She prepared accommodation for us and helped me to manage things. She introduced me to wonderful people who were helping us from the first step. From the first steps in Belgrade. I can't even name all of the things they did for us. They were wonderful.

Photo: Andreas Lehner, Belgrade, Serbia

I started everything from the beginning. Again. Once more, from scratch. New life. Everything started with registration and papers. It was a big procedure. Health insurance. Unemployment bureau. School for my daughters. And it was so hard for me to get it all done, because the daughters had to be with me all the time. But, once they told me that nothing is hard for them, they like everything in Belgrade and Serbia is better than Sweden. Except that they miss their Dad.

We bought new stuff for school. My daughters couldn't speak a word of Serbian. I knew some because of my mother, but I felt at home. I might not have history here, but I have the origin. I felt it everyday. No one can take that away from me. And some nice people, new friends, helped to get books and school material for the children.

Photo: IHH Humanitarian Relief Foundation, Refugee camp in Aleppo, December 2013

The new life might had not started yet, but school did. I would sit with my daughters every day and teach them little Serbian I knew. Several months had passed before they could understand some of the things their teacher was saying. Little by little. Their school friends helped them complete the assignments. There was none of it in Sweden. There, in Malmo, they had a translator who would help them with everything, but they didn't speak Swedish, because everyone around them was speaking Arabic. They would stay at school till 8pm, and shops would close at 6pm. In Belgrade we had peaceful life both at day and at night. I cooked what I wanted and I was happy because I wasn't cold and I was in a city with all four seasons.

I wish to resume my life. That the new beginning finally happens. But the hardest thing here is to provide a monthly income. My husband is still in Sweden. I am waiting for him to come to Belgrade. I wish that my dream comes true and that we live as we should. This time, in the fourth country that should become the only one.

Photo: Bengin Ahmad, Syrian Refugee

[1] good afternoon, house, family, king, broccoli...

[2] home, household

This blog is based on everyday-life stories of women refugees and migrants who are currently residing in Serbia. The blog was written by an author whose name has been changed to protect her privacy and was produced by Info Park with support of UN Women in Serbia with an aim of shedding light on the situation of women refugees and migrants. The views and analysis contained in the blog are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of UN Women, the United Nations or any of its affiliated organizations.

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