Syrian refugee describes life before and after moving to the UK



How to help syrian refugees

‘A Syrian refugee moved into my London home for 5 months’

Lucy Pavia

Marie Claire's entertainment editor Lucy Pavia and her husband Will had a Syrian refugee come to live in their London home for five months. Here's what happened.

Do you remember the point in September 2015 when the Syrian refugee crisis became impossible to ignore? It was after the terrible picture of 3-year-old Aylan Kurdi had been on the front of every newspaper. When the government admitted they weren’t doing enough to help. When Benedict Cumberbatch made a speech at the curtain call ofHamletand some people called him a ‘luvvie’. It was around that time that an IT consultant from Somerset called Richard Moore set up a website matching space in UK homes with Syrian refugees.

I found out about Homes For Syrians after a picture began circulating online of a 92-year-old war veteran called John Spicer. He was standing outside his house in Kent, WWII medals clipped to his chest, offering up his spare room to a refugee. ‘If he can do it…’ I thought. It took five minutes to click through to the website and sign up our house, Airbnb-style, adding a picture of our red front door and a few vague details about the room we were able to offer. Then I went home and told my husband Will.

The following day I got an email from Richard to thank me for registering. The charity was very new, he said, and there would likely be a lot of red tape to get through before someone could come to stay with us – if they ever did. Signing us up had been a very impulsive move on my part. We had got married just four months before. In a few months (though I didn’t know it at the time) I would be moving to a new job atMarie Claire.Will was two months into an intense job in finance. We had never done anything like this before, we were not the sort of people you hear about who give up their weekends to volunteer, fundraise or go on marches. On top of that, we didn’t know anyone from Syria and our knowledge of the country’s history and customs was minimal. But we did have a spare room.

‘I don’t imagine this will happen’ I said to Will at Christmas, ‘but I suppose… the offer is there?’

Loujean arrived in the first week of January. She was 23-years old, from Damascus and – unusually for a Syrian woman – she had travelled to the UK alone. Richard emailed to suggest we meet up first (‘just to see if you get on with each other’). Our first encounter felt like a weird cross between an Airbnb key transfer and a blind date. We greeted each other under the little clock at Clapham Common tube station. ‘I’m Muslim, but I’m not a bad person’ was one of the first things she said to Will and I once we’d settled down in a nearby café.

Two days later she dragged a huge pink wheely suitcase containing all of her possessions into our kitchen and started unpacking various Arabic foodstuffs she had bought that day, like Mary Poppins pulling things out of her carpet bag: bags of okra, pomegranate syrup, carefully wrapped packs of chopped meat. ‘What time do you like dinner?’ she asked, as if we’d just hired a personal chef. I said we’d take it in turns to cook and gave her a little tour of the house.






Video: Refugee crisis: The Syrians abandoning Europe - BBC News

A Syrian refugee moved into my London home for 5 months’
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Date: 09.12.2018, 23:15 / Views: 72483