A brave Arab Woman fighting to live freely and independent
It was a cold Friday, I am heading towards a refugee camp in Berlin. A social worker welcomes me and guides me through the alleys of the camp. After a short journey, she knocks on a door and a smiley face opens. On the door step she introduces me to a woman and then goes back to her
As I enter the room, I find it in best shape and most of the things are accommodated very well. The room is a reflection on the ecstatic sense of the woman who now offers me a chair. A cute baby is playing with some toys. After a few minutes, Nermeen stands in front of me. Besides her homelessness, Nermeen’s (29) face is bright and smiley and she is in full confidence. The long journey of wretchedness made her beautiful and brave both on the in- and outside.
Nermeen is a Palestinian born in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and had lived in Syria for years without ever being to her parents’ home country due to its uncertain state. Her father did business in Dubai but lost it and so they shifted back to Syria. Life was hard in Syria because Arabic wasn’t Nermeen’s mother tongue and in the UAE she underwent an English education. “Home affairs were not favourable for further studies”, Nermeen begins her tale. At the age of 16 she started a marketing job in Damascus.
“I would keep two bags on my back to sell local and other companies’ products to support my family”, she describes.
She would work 12 hours per day, dealing better than others because of her English skills that allowed her to address foreigners, too. “But the problem was I just wasn’t a marketing person at all. During that time, I fell in love with a guy and after a few meetings we got married”, she narrates. “We were together for almost five years but only half of the time was gloomy. Then we separated, I was back alone and struggling to stand on my feet. I went back to the UAE with a broken hearth and felt like I lost everything.
From the UAE, I went back to Jordan to work and start life along my sister. But I was not settling in the Arabic desert, although I was giving it my everything. At that time, news of war from Syria were coming in. I even heard they were hiring people forcefully to fight in the war. So then instead of Syria I packed my bags for Egypt. As I didn’t want to land in an uncertain Syria”, Nermeen goes on.
In 2013, she willingly married a 32-year-old Egyptian. It was the second blunder, the free bird got caged in again. “This man was cruel, I couldn’t leave the house. He locked my mobile phone and passport. He would beat me if I demanded anything. I was again helpless and could not find any means to contact my family and report to them on this barbarism. Although I tried to flee a couple of times, I did not succeed. At last, my mothers arrived and I came back to war-torn Syria. But this Egyptian husband never stopped threatening me and would tell me he would find a way to kill me with the help of terrorist organizations.”
“I was pregnant and near to delivery and so weak when my family took me out to hospital but the roads were blocked and health facilities were not available due to streets warfare. So, my first baby died”, Nermeen tells and starts sobbing. She tried her luck again and travelled to Jordan and afterwards Turkey. From there, she travelled to Greece with the help of smugglers. From Turkey to Greece, she undertook the journey in a boat crossing the ocean. “I saw life and death from the thinnest view”, Nermeen remembers the mountainous waves and vulnerable condition of the boat.
“Then I came to Germany in December of 2015”, she resounds with a sigh of relief. “I am super happy living here with my son. The respect for humanity is greater here in Germany.” Later, Nermeen got married again in Berlin but this marriage also didn’t last for long. She gave birth. The tears are rolling down her chin while she braids her baby’s hair. Nermeen is clearly upset about her child’s future. She perceives life in Germany being safe and good. She wants to continue her study and pursue her education to live an independent life.