Baba Willi

Majd, 15, came from Syria to Germany in October 2015. As an unaccompanied, underage refugee (UUF), Majd is in being housed with the clearing group WG Libanon, “Shared Housing – Lebanon”, in one of the Bethel Institute’s facilities in Bielefeld. The group, along with the social worker Kurt Willi Dietel, quickly gave him a new sense of home. PolitikOrange editor Hazm Mayer, likewise 15 and from Syria, spoke with his friend Majd and gives the following report:

The young Syrian Majd, 15-years-old, never imagined he’d find a replacement for his father and mother in Germany. In October 2015 he came to Germany without his family, came with his brother’s friend and his brother’s friend’s wife. He brought with him the memories of the terrible things he experienced in ISIS captivity. He never imagined that someone in Germany – who’s the same age as his father – would wind up becoming a father figure for him.

Majd didn't want to leave his family behind. But after he was arrested by ISIS, accused of being part of the resistance group “Raqqa: Slaughtered in Silence”, tortured, and then threatened with execution in front of his mother’s eyes, he had no other choice, he says. ISIS forced him to distribute food in the prison until they were sure he wouldn't show signs of resistance, until they knew he wasn't a threat. That's when they released him and he fled to Germany.

Willi Eases the Transition into German Society

Being alone in Germany as a minor, Majd faced many difficulties. He never thought he would adjust to his new life so quickly. Without the help and sympathies of the Germans, this wouldn't ever have been possible, he says, continuing: “In the building where I live now I met a guy, Willi, who completely changed my life. Again and again he gave me the feeling that I was safe and protected, after having lost my family so suddenly. The war in my homeland tore apart my family. Willi helped me and, through his affection and kindheartedness, became like a father to me”.

Talking about the relationship between him and his “German father”, he says he has “all the support I need in a country whose language I don't understand and whose culture is foreign to me. Willi is patient and loving and he always takes care of my needs. He tries to teach me the German language so that I can become independent, and so that it's possible for me to communicate with others and show them who I am”.

Majd is waiting for a resident permit so that he can fill out the application necessary to begin a formal investigation into the whereabouts of his family. Because of the large number of refugees and applications, his case can't be processed that easily. Until then, he hopes that Willi continue to be there for him.

The Dream of an Education in Pharmacology 

To the question of what his plans for the future, while he gains more and more stability in his life, he responds: “I dream of studying pharmacology in a few years. I will do everything I can to make this dream a reality. I want to study at a university and then work in a pharmacy. I'm working hard to break into a successful path that will let me get back all that I lost and reverse all the injustices I experienced”.

Majd’s flight, which began in Raqqa, resembles that of the thousands of other Syrians who fled – a bitter and difficult journey. Majd began his journey with a smuggler and fled to Aleppo on the Syrian-Turkish border. His flight ended there: he was arrested by the Turkish police, his mobile phone was confiscated and destroyed, and he was physically beaten. “I didn't give up. After three days of imprisonment, during which I was scared I’d be sent back to the heart of Syria, I was finally able to successfully cross the Syrian border into Turkey. After I'd spent a few days with one of my brothers in Turkey, I fled across the sea towards Greece, and from there I continued on to Germany. I left behind my father, my mother, and my brother in Raqqa, and with them many of my childhood memories”, says Majd.

Tranlation from the Arabic: Mehdi Harichane and Lara Render.

You can read more in “Not Just Statistics” about what Kurt Willi Dietel thinks of his work with refugees and how he views his relationship with Majd.

Hazm Mater und Mohammed Swed
15 and 33 years old, Damascus
. . . spontaneously found each other to be on a team.