Age: 51

City/Country of origin: Damascus, Syria

Marital Status: Married

Children: 3

Profession: Baker

Hobbies: Computer

Reason for staying on Lesvos: On my way to Germany.

My mood today (1-10): 5

Why? I wish we could move on to Mythilini today, where the ferry to Athens is. Now we have to wait and sleep outside tonight.

My advice for the world: Please help people who are in pain in Syria. Politicians could have stopped this before everything started.



Age: 19

City/country of origin: Rotterdam, the Netherlands

Marital status: Relationship

Children: 0

Profession: Student nautical school. And transportation courier.

Hobbies: Repairing and tinkering on my scooter.

Reason for staying on Lesvos: Holiday

My mood today (1-10): 10

Why? This conversation with Rashad has made my day complete. I will never forget this.

My advice for the world: We all should take care for other people.




‘What do you know about Syria?’ asked Rashad from Damascus to Otis from Rotterdam.  Ten days ago he left Syria for the first time in his life.  ‘Not so much,’ Otis said very honestly, ‘except that there is a war going on there.’

‘But I meant about the nature and so on,’ Rashad said, ‘it is really very beautiful and we have many archaeological treasures. In his thoughts he drifted to the future and then he said: ‘it would be nice if you would come and visit me in Syria sometime. Then I will take you to visit my family and I will show you all of those beautiful places.’

It was never his intention to leave Syria.  As a baker in Damascus he had a good life with his wife and children.  If someone would have told him that in five years time he would be sitting in an overfull rubber boat crossing the sea he never would have believed it.  And especially not because he would have to split his family in two.  His wife, son and mother remained behind.  The journey across Europe cost thousands of Euros per person.

‘What would you do with a million?’ Otis asked. ‘I would help all of the people who couldn’t leave Syria,’ Rashad said, ‘life there is currently unbearable.’

‘I would like to wish you a good trip,’ Otis said. ‘Thank you very much,’ Rashad replied, ‘and I wish that you will be able to finish your studies at the nautical college, and that you may always be as cheerful as now.’

A wide smile, a wink, a handshake and a photo.  Back in the Netherlands Otis emailed us: ‘Thanks for the beautiful experience, I will never forget this, it has hit me hard.’

The 19-year-old touched us too because he offered to take part in the project.  He went and sat on a bench and could listen to someone who had to make a difficult journey. That is why Otis we hope one day that you will be able to go along with your girl to buy a nice, fresh bread in the rebuilt bakery of Rashad in Damascus.  And that he can show you all of the beautiful places in Syria.

As long as the war in Syria goes on Rashad will remain in a centre in Germany, where he waits for the outcome of his procedure.  In early December we received the message that his wife, son and mother had also arrived in Germany.  The reunion was an emotional and happy one.  They had to take the same route as he had done.