SYRIAN REFUGEESOne Year in Germany
Three generations of the Kurdish Haso family fled from Syria to Dortmund. Now they are learning German, combating bureaucracy and acclimatizing to their new environment. We accompanied them for a whole year.
The 30-year-old arrived in the Ruhr region some 4 years ago to work as a junior doctor in the surgical unit of a hospital in Herne. "When I've learned enough I'll return home to help my compatriots,” he said at the time.
But things turned out very differently:
His family has now joined him here in Germany.
Then the first bombs fell, and the civil war broke out.
Alan's family suddenly found itself in mortal danger.
Alan on the war in his homeland
"I couldn't stop worrying"
Arrival in Ruhrgebiet
The one condition: they must bear the costs of flights, accommodation and food themselves.
Despite completing the many application forms, Alan faced many obstacles. At one stage, his family was required to submit documents from the Syrian capital, Damascus – necessitating a car journey across a 700-kilometre-long war zone. Then a further deadline expired though no fault of Alan. A foretaste of the bureaucratic nightmare he would have to negotiate in the coming months.
Finally, however, his claim was approved:
For which Alan is eternally grateful, and against which all else pales into insignificance.
Alan on his feelings of relief
"Finally they are all here"
Sein Bruder Rinas
Rinas on having to start again
"We had to leave. For the sake of the children's future".
Neustart mit Hürden
But they hadn't reckoned with bureaucratic obstacles which first had to be overcome.
The actual move itself is quickly completed. But Alan is working too many hours to find the time to properly furnish his new home. His only household item: a set of bed linen sporting the FC Barcelona logo.
And all his relatives brought with them from Syria were a few bags full of clothes.
But it's not the pressure of working such long hours, which Alan finds so exhausting, but something else:
Alan on the strain of dealing with the bureaucratic hurdles
"Everything takes so long. Too long"
Obstacles of bureaucracy
Entangled in Red Tape
The social services issue him with a so-called treatment voucher which he then takes to his GP. There he will receive a referral to an ophthalmologist. He then takes this back to the social services which submits an application to the health department - this time for treatment by an eye specialist.
The applications take weeks to process.
So on top of his long working hours, Alan is required in both cases to submit the applications in person. Often at 7 o'clock in the morning, straight after finishing another 24-hour shift.
His superiors at the hospital are supporting him, but the long hours spent waiting in the drab corridors of officialdom are taking it's physical and mental toil.
Alan on the arduous application procedures
"Rinas' daughter was refused treatment"
Unable to speak the language, they are completely reliant on Alan. And even worse: the world outside remains closed to them.
So they have to take the first steps themselves.
First learn the language then find a job
"Now there is a better future"
Learning German in front of the TV
"Du bist, er ist, ..."
Alan won't make it on his own
Last chance Asylum?
Gründe für Asylantrag
But with each long queue, and with each complicated application form, Alan was rapidly approaching the limits of his endurance.
Eventually he capitulated, and the family applied for asylum.
Seemingly their only chance of ever being able to lead a normal life again
Integration auf eigene Faust
Eventually this will enable him to earn his own livelihood and, together with his wife and children, start planning for the future.
But until then Rinas has found his own way to integrate into the local community.
The simplest language in the world
Now he can often be seen riding his bicycle around Dortmund - usually en route to the local football club BV Westfalia Wickede.
Rinas at training
An arrangement which benefits everyone.
Trainer Björn Budde on his new colleague
"A lucky find"
Die Sprache lernen
A few weeks ago Rinas finally secured a place on a German course – and now he is able to make himself understood on the pitch as well.
And yet Rinas' biggest joy is the progress made by his daughter
One year later
Namah with her "best friends"
"... and for ever friends"
Teacher Nadine Wortmann on Namah
"The children are so keen to help"
In der Schulklasse
In the meantime Namah has cast aside any inhibitions and is eager to speak with her "very best friends", in fact with anyone willing to listen to her.
For Alan, watching her rapid progress helps to compensate for everything the family has gone through.
Alan's upbeat assessment
"Namah is no longer afraid"
They have been in Germany for one year now. One year in their new home, a year full of struggles - with setbacks and successes.
But a year which gives them the courage to face the future.