‘In the Spotlight’ #3: Adam

The eldest of three brothers, Adam arrived to Cyprus after fleeing the war in Syria, leaving his mother and father behind in Damascus. As a 25-year-old architecture graduate, Adam shares his thoughts about his war torn country and people, his hopes for the future and what he has learned having been dealt a fate that placed him in the middle of a war zone.
By Melissa Hekkers

Throughout my conversation with Adam there is a prevalent back and forth between the past and the future; a timeline that Adam grounds in the present with his determination to move forward through the waiting period of his asylum application into the prospect of a brighter future. Wearing a blatant smile, and an avid thirst for knowledge, we spend about an hour outside the Caritas Migrant Centre in the heart of Nicosia; a place he spends a good amount of time contemplating about his next steps.

Originally from the city centre of Damascus, where Adam’s family still resides, Adam left his hometown to avoid being recruited for military purposes and fight on the front line of the war in Syria.

“My father didn’t want to think about the possibility of me fighting in the war, my family was worried about me… they bought me a ticket to leave Damascus,” recalls Adam, who has been in Nicosia for the past four months.

Born into a family of architects and engineers, Adam’s family prospered in developing villages around Damascus prior to 2012. “The war began in the villages we were working in,” reveals Adam, “our business was blown up, all the buildings we constructed in villages blew up, everything just blew up,” he adds.

As a result, Adam’s father hasn’t worked for the past six years, “he’s just waiting for the war to finish,” Adam tells me, while his mother commutes between Beirut and Damascus for medical reasons but also to get away from the atmosphere the war has imposed on her daily life.

“When I talk to my mother and I ask her about how may father is doing, she tells me that he is drawing plans and urban designs for Damascus after the war, he sits in his office and he works out everything; where the hospital is going to be; in which plot, what buildings there will be for homeless people to live in… it’s not good for a man to have nothing to do,” says Adam.

“For sure, if the war finishes, I’m going back to Syria, wherever I am in the world, I’m going back, I wish to rebuild Damascus,” he adds.

With a younger brother living in Beirut and another in Germany, Adam has been seeking subsidiary protection in Cyprus for the past four months and is anticipating a decision from asylum services in the near future.

“I’m pretty new here, I need to see if I have a chance to continue my life here, but now I’m just waiting, waiting, waiting. I’m really nervous, I’m 25 years old and I’m trying. I’m not the kind of person that gives up, but it’s really hard,” he admits.

One of the reasons Adam chose to come to Cyprus is because he feels he’s closer to his parents here.

“No one ever imagined we would be here [displaced], all Syrian people have difficulty accepting this although some accept the idea of traveling away, but before no one ever imagined they would travel outside of Syria. We love our country, we want to stay in it,” he states.

“Damascus is beautiful, but everyone has run away, every young person has gone, Damascus is now full of ladies and old people, all young people are troubled. This war has cost us 30 years, a generation… if the war finished now we would need the next 30 years to rebuild not just Damascus but the people of Damascus and that’s actually something tough to think about, if we find a solution we will face other problems,” he muses.

During our conversation Adam pulls out his cell phone from which he shares photos of his life back in Syria, his beautiful mum, his brothers, his house, his dog he left behind. He shows me a photo of the summer home his family had on the outskirts of Damascus.

“There are people living in our summer house, they broke the door and they have been living in it but they’re our people, we can’t tell them to leave, they need shelter in this war,” he tells me as he continues to roam through the photo gallery on his phone.

Yet, from his perspective living outside of his war torn country, Adam can already reflect on what the war has taught him.

“(The War) has taught me how to love my people, how to understand them. Before, when I saw Syrian people in Damascus I didn’t used to say hi to them, I didn’t take care of them. But now when I see them here I talk to them, I try to take the problems they have on my shoulders and for them to take the problems I have on theirs. That’s what I learned. I learned to think about others.”

As our conversation comes to a close, Adam helps me understand that the reason he is here is ultimately to find hope and attain protection. Yet part of him worries about his future, even if his granted protection.

“I studied architecture for six years and that’s what I’m good at, I’m good in architecture, I’m good at planning, I’m good at making designs, it would be tough for me to keep a job cleaning cars,” he says.

As Adam awaits an answer for his application, and having studied architecture, he hopes that one-day he will be able to practice the profession he persevered in studying. As an asylum-seeker, Adam is legally unable to work for his first six months after submitting an application. After six months he can work in very few areas such as petrol stations, sanitation, and agriculture regardless of his qualifications. Given these limitations, Adam tries to make the most of out of his time.

“I don’t like having huge amounts of time without anything to do, this is a big problem. I’m learning French so that I can understand the Africans that I’m living with. I’m learning a new architectural programme, but it’s not enough, I have already waited four months…. we need to be patient and we will see, I don’t know what God has in mind for us,” says Adam with his generous smile that pin-points the unexpected.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Comments are closed.