Abdallah is 34 years old and lives in Italy. This is a translation of the transcript of his recorded story:
"My name is Abdullah Huseen and I am a Syrian citizen residing in Italy. On the morning of 25/9/2019, I arrived in the Italian capital, Rome, and I am still residing there. In Syria, in addition to my study, I helped my father in the car trade. It was not a permanent business but it is what I did with my free time.
In October 2012, I moved to Lebanon as a result of events in my hometown, Homs. At the end of 2013, I started working with several international and local agencies and organizations in sectors such as statistics and relief. I then moved to the development sector specifically to work in political and social empowerment. All this work and engagement was with UNHCR as a volunteer.
I later went to work with Oxfam in Italy, ReLife International, and then moved to work with EED, a Belgian organization in partnership with a local institution. Before leaving Lebanon, I worked on a small project with Work Vision as a supervisor for the psychological support and empowerment of children in Bekaa camps, and also worked as a winterer for children on the streets.
Currently, I am in Italy but not working as I am learning Italian. I am almost done with the second stage of the language course.
I arrived in Italy in September 2019 but from the end of 2017 I was familiarizing myself with "Brittsioni Colomba", a humanitarian organization set up by a group of Italian volunteers who took it upon themselves to help refugees by hearing their stories, accompanying them to hospital, and helping families through checkpoints. They are with them in all places of fear. When they are not at their permanent residence in northern Lebanon, they live in the camp like the refugees - they eat with them, spend time with them, share their wounds and their happiness, sink like them when heavy rain falls and suffer like them from heat in the summer.
I found them through a friend named Abdul Rahim Hossein. Of course, they are the only ones who helped me with my file and my situation. Despite my work in agencies including the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, this did not help me to get protection.
All doors were shut in my face, and I found myself close to this organization, helping them to see people’s situations by virtue of my relationships and knowledge. Little by little, I became friends with most of the volunteers, and they would attend seminars and conferences with me. Some of them are researchers and journalists, and I had a good relationship with them and we are still in contact.
In 2019, they nominated my file to get protection from the Italian embassy. On 25th September 2019, I arrived in Italy at 6am after several hours of fatigue, standing and hunger, and having barely slept. I didn’t get out of the arrivals hall until 1am. I found three young people who I did not know (Katrina, Silvia and Mikili) from the reception group who hosted me for two years at their home until I was able to stand on my own two feet and follow my own path.
One of the girls from the organization was heading to Lebanon at the same time as I arrived but I did not meet her. However, my three hosts put my belongings in the car and took me home and showed me to my room.
Up to that moment I was in shock. What was happening? Who are these people? I don't know them! But then, I got so comfortable that I stopped worrying. Just when I arrived, a Syrian film called "La Ajel el Sama" was released, and they invited me to go to the cinema with them to watch the film together. "Al-Kazala'' is the house I live in now. This is what you call families and organizations living in a big house.
I am now living a life of asylum, trying to get everything that is beautiful out of myself. I was waiting to live in good conditions to discover the beautiful things that are inside. We know that hard things come out of you but if the conditions are right, beautiful things come out too.
Here, people don't know me but they know that if a young man is given the right opportunity, then he will be able to take a new path. I have aimed to work since day one because I know that work benefits you. I have to do something. I started to learn the language, understand the mentality, the quality and culture of the country. I was working on the mindset of “when in Italy do as the Italians do”. If I go to Germany, I will do as the Germans do, and so on... I took all the beautiful opportunities and interacted with the community. I started sharing their joy and sadness. I have duties as much as I have rights, and despite my Syrian nationality, I am trying to understand the culture of this country.
I know about Arabic cuisine and Syrian cuisine, grape leaves, makloobeh, falafel. Waking up to the smell of thyme along with fateh, humus, foul and mouhalabieh - all of this is on the table of the Italian family I live with. Meanwhile, I have learned how to cook spaghetti and pasta and the delicious sauces.
I still work with Brittsioni Colomba. I met with them before the quarantine at their office in northern Italy and after the quarantine began we moved to working online. I don't feel I'm doing anything very great but at least I feel I am one of these existing souls. I have a lot of Italian friends, everyone checks on me and I check on them and we communicate on a daily basis. I chose Italy because of social convergence. It is a Mediterranean country and it has a Mediterranean culture. I was reassured when I reached here and I saw the people. I remember when a German guest came here and I got to know her. She asked me: “Where are you from?” I told her: “I am from Syria”. She responded immediately: “Why didn't you go to Germany?” I said to her: “I cannot live in Germany. This is my place here and if I go to Germany I will die socially”.
She was not surprised by my answer and knew what I meant. I think that the people who have the most sense of belonging are the ones who have nothing. I have no property here, I have only knowledge, friends and loved ones, and for me that is my current belonging.
I am Abdullah Huseen and this is my story."