"My father arrived here one year before our family reunification from Syria. When the war started, we lived in a small town north of Aleppo, close to the Turkish border. At that time I was thirteen years old. I hadn’t seen my father for almost three years. The joy that I felt in that moment in the Copenhagen airport still fills me with joy today. There was so much that I hadn’t thought about: ‘Where am I going?’, ‘What is going to happen?’, a new language, a new culture, ‘what is integration?’ I didn’t even know if Denmark was a city or a country. I only focused on one thing – being able to see my father again.
Today, I’m twenty years old. I arrived in Denmark eight years ago on December 7, 2013. It was snowing.
When I arrived, I didn’t know much. I have grown and developed here, been through hard times, but I think that I’m handling it well. I know that the most important thing is to create a good future for myself – this is where I plan to stay for the rest of my life. If I were to do something good for myself, I would get an education and study something that I love.
I recently graduated from high school. During my summer vacation, I am working twelve hours a day – with only one day off during the week. I’m looking forward to the vacation being over, because I’m hoping to be accepted into one of my dream educations: as a nurse or a medical laboratory technologist. Both are in the healthcare system, and both mean a lot to me. Several factors influenced my choice in education. When we arrived in Denmark, I was the one in my family who learned the language the fastest. So every time my parents or my aunts and uncles went to see the doctor, I came along as an interpreter.
It was then that I became interested in the healthcare system: every time I entered the hospital, I immediately gravitated towards the people and the environment there. They were friendly people wearing their white scrubs, soaring like angels. You seldom hear of the people behind the white scrubs, but if you look closely, they are the backstage soldiers of society. To me, it is an important education. You get to help so many people and do something human.
There have been many times in my life where my family and I have been in need of help, and there are still so many people out there who need help. Being able to help others, means the world to me personally.
The worst thing imaginable is falling ill. It’s never funny being hospitalized. So when you are admitted to the hospital, it’s important to feel safe. It would mean a lot to me both as a patient and as a nurse if I were to be accepted. I hope so.
I’m trying to use my past experiences to my advantage here. I work very hard and plan on getting an education. I comply with the system – my dream is to give something back to society. I am a good citizen. In 1.5 years, I can apply for my permanent residence permit. I dream of a safe future where I don’t have to live every day carrying around the fear of an unknown future – the fear of being deported at any minute.
I once asked my parents if they wished to go back to Syria when peace is brought back at last. They said ‘yes’. I don’t feel the same way. Their whole lives are back in Syria. Mine is not – mine is here."
Mehrdad has been decorating the walls of Temporary Reception Center Bira since March 2019, making them come to life with graffiti and paintings, giving beauty and colour to the facility that is now shelter for him and more than 1500 other persons.
In 1997, Nicole fled Eritrea to avoid military conscription. Her story is a story of female empowerment and strength. Coming to a new country, Nicole had to overcome the challenges of being “othered” due to her birth name, Rahwa.