Age: 65

City/Country of origin: Damascus, Syria

Marital Status: Married

Children: 5

Profession: Carpenter

Hobbies: Carpentry

Reason for staying on Lesvos: On tour to Germany, where my son is living.

My mood today (1-10): 8

Why? ..

My advice for the world: Thank everyone who has helped us here.




Age: 50

City/Country of origin: Stuttgart, Germany

Marital status: Married

Children: 3

Profession: Financial consultant

Hobbies: Tennis, holidays.

Reason for staying on Lesvos: Holiday, this is the land of origin of my wife.

My mood today (1-10): 10

Why? I feel a good vibe over here.

My advice for the world:  Help the refugees.





On a bench in a park on Lesbos the German financial consultant Tilmann met the Syrian Ghanem.  In response to the question where he came from he pointed to the sea and beyond. ‘Ten days ago I still lived in Damascus.’ 

‘What did you do in Damascus?’ Tilmann asked. ‘Oh,’ Ghanem said, ‘I was a king!’ A short silence followed, both from behind the cameras as from Tilmann. ‘A king...?’ Tilmann repeated cautiously. ‘Yes,’ Ghanem said, ‘a king! I had my own carpenter’s workshop and all of my family around me, my grandchildren, I had everything!’

Unfortunately the years of war slowly made an end to his king’s life.  There was no longer any work, everything had become very expensive, and the homes of the family were destroyed.  Instead of starting to take it easy he had to leave his beloved Syria for the first time in his life at the age of 65.

Along with his son and a few grandchildren he got into the rubber boat to Greece, on the way to a son who was already living in Germany.  He left his wife and a portion of his children and grandchildren behind.  

‘We never thought that this would happen to us as Syrians,’ he said, ‘that we would be separated by a war.’

‘What do you miss the most?’ Tilmann asked. Ghanem answered: ‘In our Arabic culture social contacts are very important and we want to keep that.  I miss my wife, children and grandchildren very much.  I hope that Allah can help us to be together again, because living this way is far too painful.’ He pointed to his heart and looked down.

Happily the Ghanem family were able to make a fast trip.  Two weeks after this conversation his granddaughter emailed us that they had safely arrived in southern Germany.  Here the process started to receive a residency permit.  Ghanem missed his carpenter’s very much and sitting still and doing nothing had been difficult for this craftsman.

In early December we unexpectedly received word that his wife had arrived in Germany and the couple had been reunited.  When they realized that the family reunification would take far too long, she decided to make the same journey as he had done.