“My wife and I were working as teachers when ISIS invaded my home town in 2015. Our wages were stopped as ISIS took over thelocal authorities and changed all the subjects to fit their political and religious doctrine. When I stopped going to work an ISIS man called to my house to get me. I made the decision to leave Syria with my wife, and our two children.


We travelled in small buses to Raqqa which was also under ISIS attack, and paid traffickers to bring us to the Turkish border. We then travelled to a town in Turkey called Urfa, where we stayed in an asylum camp for four months, living in a tent; it was almost like a jail. We had no money and couldn’t buy basic things for the children.


We walked to another camp site nearer the Arab territories but were refused entry, so we lived on the street for three days before being allowed in. My wife and I managed to get some paid teaching work in the camp, and we saved the money in order to pay traffickers to get us to Greece by dinghy.


The boat we were put in was just nine metres long, and crammed with 70 people, mostly women and children. On our first attempt the dinghy began to flood. It was chaos, the children were screaming.
Finally the Greek authorities brought us to an island, where we were put with other asylum seekers. We tried to make it to Macedonia but the border was closed, so we were caught and had to spend the next nine months living in a military camp.


When the relocation programme began in 2017, we put our names forward. The committee moved us to an apartment for three months, and then in June 2017 we were told we could move to Ireland. We were so happy!


In October 2018 we moved to our forever home in Navan, Co Meath. We were assigned an Extern support worker and a bilingual support worker, who helped us to integrate within our community and link us in with external services to meet our health, educational and social needs.


Thanks to Extern and the help they gave us, for the first time in years we now feel safe and happy in our forever home. Now we can look forward to our future together as a family!"


Ibrahem (35), Meath