Sleman’s Story

refugee week - painted face

This is one of series of articles featuring the real life stories of refugees who are now living in Kirklees.

These stories give an insight into the struggles that those seeking a life away from persecution go through and are a powerful reminder of how much we take for granted.

the following story comes from an interview with the Red Cross you can read this and other stories in their Syrian Voices collection. 

Sleman Shwaish, 28, living in Huddersfield

“I love England. Something here is special. People love and respect me – that means a lot. Life here is not just about money. I am not sure I would find people as lovely as they are here if I went elsewhere.

“I arrived in the UK in 2012. People were smiling at the airport. I had a nice feeling, I had fulfilled my dream to get to the UK to continue my studies. But at the same time I was also sad. I knew I wouldn’t see my parents anymore.

“My English was okay when I arrived. I used to follow the news about the UK when I was in Syria. I knew about the culture, the royal family and football – we used to watch Manchester United and Manchester City on TV. I would love to see a match in Manchester.

“The English have been so friendly and welcoming. Well, most of them. I’ve met a few people who have been against refugees, but it’s not their fault. They just don’t know or understand what’s happening in Syria.

“I met one guy who didn’t like refugees. I just told him, ‘I don’t mind if you don’t want to help me, but please, respect me. Respect me as a human being.

“One thing that surprised me about life here is how you eat sausages for breakfast. How can you eat them at breakfast? I cannot understand this. They are so heavy. In Syria, we normally have something light, like olives, hummus or cheese. But not sausages. I still find that strange.

“It was so hard to leave Syria. You leave your soul behind and your body runs away. You leave everything behind, including your memories. It was not an easy decision to leave. When peace returns to Syria, I will be among the first to return and help rebuild it. It is a beautiful country with beautiful people.”

Find out more  

If you would like to read more refugee stories you can read about Nariman, and Nefise. In addition you can learn more about refugees in our article 7 things you might not know about refugees.

Also more information can be found on twitter under the hashtag #kirkleeswelcomes.

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