Caritas Serbia’s team in Presevo has gained new members – refugees who are volunteering with us, distributing food, translating and looking after the needs of others. They are part of the group of 680 refugees, who are staying permanently in Presevo, since the Balkan route has been officially closed.
One of them is Anas, a 19 year old boy from Aleppo – Syria. He is travelling alone, leaving his younger sister, his older brother and his single mother at home.
“My brother is studying medicine in Syria. People want to study and get education, although they are risking their lives to go to university. My family is also planning to leave Syria, as soon my brother finishes his studies. I finished secondary school for electronics. I wanted to get to university, but I realized that it’s better to leave the country, cause I don’t see this war coming to an end. I used to play football, but the bombs destroyed my club.
I love helping people, that’s why I’m volunteering with Caritas. I feel grateful because people helped me, so I want to give that back. I feel better knowing that we refugees are not just sitting outside the camp and getting aid, but that we are also helping.“
Ewan is a 26 year old Christian from Mosul, Iraq. He was one of the first who came to volunteer in Caritas and invited others.
“I met some people here, like Driton (one of the Caritas staff members) and I thought that I want to help people too. I want to work for Caritas all my life. I want to help all people, not just my family. I respect all people, I don’t care what you believe in. I believe in one God and He has told me: love all, give help to all, want peace for all people. I’m a Christian, but sometimes I go to the mosque with my Muslim friends“.
As he explained his trip to get to Europe was very difficult:
“I didn’t have enough money, so I had to stay in Turkey for 20 days. I’ve been walking for 5 days from Turkey to Sofia in Bulgaria. In my group there were women and children and we spent 2 days with no food. We stayed for one day in Sofia and traveled to Belgrade, where we also spend one day. When I got to Sid, at the border with Croatia, I was told that I can’t continue, because I don’t have registration papers from Greece and Macedonia, so I had to go back to Presevo.“
His situation back home was very dangerous too:
“My family: my mom, my dad, my two sisters (14 and 7 years old) and my 10 years old brother are staying in Nord Iraq now. The situation is not good there. Before ISIS came we stayed in Mosul, but when they came they said: if you change your religion or give money you can stay, othervise you have to leave your home and go away. So we went away. I started the trip to Europe. My family was worried about me, because they said I could be killed. In Iraq it’s dangerous, there are bomb cars, some people may kill you because you’re different. You have more problems.
I want peace in my country, but for now I can’t go back there again, it’s impossible. In Iraq I don’t see anything, just war, war, war. I want to go to some country that gives respect to all men and women, that gives respect to me and where I can work.
Here in Presevo there are very good people, all people who work in Caritas respect me like a person, not threat me like an animal. We don’t care who is Muslim or Christian, all people deserve respect.“
Abdual Sater is a 16 year old boy from Homs – Syria, also volunteering with Caritas in Presevo. He left Syria with his 17 year old sister and 36 year old mother and they have no one other left in Syria.
“In Homs the situation is very difficult, there is nothing left, it’s all broken down. We traveled for 10 days from Turkey to get here. During the trip through the Mediterranean the water started entered our boat, but fortunately the Greek police came to help us. On our route we were stopped in Slovenia, returned to Croatia and then back to Serbia. We have been in Presevo since the beginning on March. My friend Ewan invited me and my sister to volunteer here and I feel very good giving a helping hand“.
Mohebullah is the youngest volunteer. He is only 8 years old, but he speaks fluent English, so he is helping with the Farsi translations in Presevo camp.
When asked about his trip from Afghanistan to get here Mohebullah answered: “It wasn’t a trip. It was a killer trip. The worst thing was when my father disappeared somewhere in Iran. At home all is bad. My older brother was kidnapped by ISIS.“
“Here in Presevo I feel really good, people are nice“, he said.