Life In Berlin: Rami and Majd
This summer, two cousins we’re calling Rami and Majd, arrived from Syria as refugees. They recently received their first bit of government funding - about 320 euros each to cover their living expenses for two months. Reporter Daniel Guillemette caught up with them when they traveled to Neukölln for their first major purchase.
I met up with Rami and his cousin Majd when they were on the hunt for some comfort food at a Middle Eastern grocery store on Sonnenallee.
"You know, in Syria, I didn’t like this stuff, but when I see it, I’ll buy it because it’s from Syria," Rami tells me.
Right now in the grocery store, they’re caught between two opposing forces: The pull of nostalgia for all the food they really want, and having to be careful with their limited funds.
"Oh my gosh, 6 Euros," Rami exclaims. "It’s too expensive here."
But despite the high prices, nostalgia seems to have won out.
"You have to carry all this stuff," I tell him. "What, are you crazy? It’s all cans."
"You know, there’s so much stuff we can have here," says Rami.
Rami and Majd grab their heavy bags and we leave the store and go to a nearby patio for a beer. All the grocery items from back home seem to have put them in the mood to talk about Syria.
"Me and my cousin, and many Syrian people here, had a good life there," Rami tells me. "You know, me and my friends, we’d go out every weekend, play cards, and have a good time with each other. You can do anything you want. The life is very good - was - was very good..."
"...but the government, and the terrorist people is taking everything beautiful in Syria," Majd interjects. "My friends died in this war. Five of my best friends."
"Right now, it’s familiar to hear about someone dead," Rami says. "Unfortunately, it’s familiar."
Not only has Majd lost five close friends, he says his girlfriend was killed last year after a car bomb exploded.
"This is the life in Syira," says Majd. "After the war, I’m sorry to say, I hate Islam. I hate God. I think, there’s no God in Syria."
Here in Berlin, Rami and Majd are caught in a kind of limbo...they’re still months away from being able to get a residency permit which would allow them to work and their limited funding means that they can’t just spend themselves to distraction. So, on days like this, it’s hard to take their mind off of what’s happening back home.
"Believe me, we miss this laughing in the street in Syria," Rami comments as a group of laughing Germans pass. "We miss that."