Chapter XI: Arrival


There are millions of routes, one for each person who escapes. One route, the one Adham Fahad Mohamed took, went like this:


Adham is a Palestinian refugee. No, his grandfather is a Palestinian refugee. His grandfather fled after the partition of Palestine in 1948 and settled in the Yarmuk refugee camp in Syria. Adham’s father was born in Yarmuk. Adham was born in Yarmuk. He is the third generation of Palestinians who have lived there.

“Assad soldiers killed my father and my brother,” says Adham, now 27. “I decided to leave with my partner.”

That’s how it all started. He decided to flee. From Damascus they went to the city of Homs. From there to Aleppo. And then to the border with Turkey. To make the journey, he paid €1,000 to armed opposition groups to get them through the checkpoints and into Turkey, as if they were smuggled contraband. Hidden in trucks. Across the desert, the olive groves.

Once in Turkey, he paid another €1,000 for to get on a bus to the west coast and to board an inflatable boat along with dozens of other refugees. They reached the beaches of the Greek island of Lesbos. They left danger behind.

Then, a ferry to Athens. A bus to Idomeni, on the border with Macedonia. A packed train into Macedonia and then on to the Serbian border. More buses to get into Croatian territory. Kilometres of walking at night. Slovenia, Austria. More trains. And then, Finally, Germany.

Some of his traveling companions seemed quite relaxed,  but not Adham, it was like he was possessed. He wanted to get to Germany as soon as possible, he was practically sprinting.

“I’m a professor of mathematics,” he says. "I’m looking forward to getting to Germany to find work.”

“And I hope to have a child in Germany,” he adds, looking at his partner.

A few days later, Adham was already in Germany. Their new home: Cologne. At the moment, in a hotel.

The Palestinian couple on the ferry taking from the Greek island of Lesbos to Athens. | ANNA Surinyach


It seems like it could be the end of their journey, but it isn’t; the journey never ends. They can imagine another journey.

“I don’t plan to return to Syria,” Adham says. “Assad and the Islamic State are there. When I’m well established in Germany, I’ll save up. With my documentation in order, I’ll travel to Palestine. I’ll go to Palestine. Palestine... Palestine is...”

For a moment, Adham searches for the right words. Then, “Palestine is my dream,” he says.