Rokash Ali

I feel different when I walk the streets of Denmark. Foreign compared to ethnic Danes. When we speak together, I can feel that I cannot express myself 100% as I would like.

I fled with my family from Aleppo to Afrin. All I managed to bring with me was a few photographs of the kids, my wedding photos and some clothes. I had to choose the most important things - fast. The kids and the photos. Everything else was lost during a single night of bombing in Aleppo. 100% turned into dust: our taxi, our shop, our flat.

I can remember we cried all the way out of Aleppo. In Afrin we stayed with my parents. One September morning at 9 A.M. we got a cab across the border to Turkey. The Turkish people smugglers traveled along the coast and planted the expensive dream of a better life in Europe in our minds.

From Izmir we sailed to Greece in a shabby inflatable rubber dinghy. We could see the Greek island just out there, a couple of miles away at the most, but the journey across the water lasted six hours. The boat took in water, it smelled of petrol, and we sat with our hearts up in our throats and feared for our lives.

I grew up in a village in Syria. Maybe that's why I feel comfortable here in Aabenraa. I like the town which is not too big. And I'm so lucky because I've gotten a loving and caring “mother”. With her I can laugh and cry. The comfort and confidence she has helped me achieve is invaluable. Without her, I would not feel as good as I have in Denmark.

Rokash Ali / 36 / female / married / children / laundry worker / Aabenraa / from Syria / fled in 2013 / residence permit 2013