Dalal Adi from Hama is 23 years old and she fled Syria by land and boat to Turkey and Greece, losing track of the two other women who were initially with her. In Rhodes, she was shut in a meat-packing factory (where Angelica Jularbo volunteered as a nurse and befriended her) with many other Syrian refugees who arrived by boat. She mostly walked all the way to Sweden, making some parts of the journey by bus.
She could not start taking language courses for a year while waiting for her residency. During this time, she volunteered with the Red Cross and in Syrian refugee camps, organizing activities for children. “I felt that we should not be helped only by Europeans,” and Syrian refugees must see other refugees helping them.
She finished her language courses and now speaks well. She lives in Eskilstuna (near Stockholm), where there are very few Syrians. She works in a cafe and plans to start university studies. She lives with a Swedish woman and has Swedish, Syrian, and international friends. Her parents live in Sweden but not in the town where she currently resides.
She says the bureaucracy is slow and difficult, and that this put her life on hold for the first year. However, her brother arrived with an emergency health problem and she appreciates how the Swedish authorities fast-tracked his initial papers so he could be hospitalized, and says that he had his residency papers within two months.
She says she has changed a great deal since coming to live in Sweden and has adopted some new ways that she likes. She has become autonomous, learning to do everything for herself. She says “Swedes are a bit like IKEA kits,” able to put themselves together independently. She loves gender equality in Sweden, and sees it manifested in people’s attitudes and practices, with women and men doing any kind of work they want. She has told her mother that she is thinking of taking home-repair classes to have a way to make money when she needs it.
She participated in Lina Abyad’s play I am Not a Vase (produced by Sharq.Org) and loved this new experience, particularly her character Ansaf, a revolutionary who married someone from another religion. She took time off work to go into town and practice, and felt solidarity with the troupe. This experience encouraged her to try new experiences and she started acting classes.