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Issam Zaqrit talks to New Times about the pain of a complete change of life and of knowing that your friends and family are not safe anymore

Re-imagening life in Denmark

18 year old Issam Zaqrit’s life turned from bliss to hell when war broke out in his Syria

Issam Zaqrit in his room in his asylum center in Roskilde in front of his computer that shows a picture of his family’s burned and destroyed house in Syria

By: Steer

“My family was large and we had a big house and a factory for cheese and dairy. I was very happy and I did not feel like I needed something. Whatever I wanted I found it in front of me”, Issam says.

Issam Zaqrit, a young Syrian who was was studying in high school to become an engineer of electronics, is now an asylum seeker in Denmark. He talks to New TImes about the pain of a complete change of life and of knowing that your friends and family are not safe anymore.

A peacock and a dog named Betty
“My father promised to buy me a car if I succeeded in my high school. I did not have a car, but I had four horses and a peacock and a dog named Betty.”

Issam speaks with tears in his eyes. He remembers a childhood without sorrows.

“We were visiting archaeological sites including Homs castle in every holiday, which dates thousands of years back “.

Issams family had a lot of festive traditions including the first Thursday of April. On this day they distributed candles in the streets and visited graves to pray for the deceased of the family to always rest in peace.

One other tradition took place every week on Wednesday, when families in the neighbourhood celebrated what they called “jokes day”, collecting jokes around the world to tell each other to have what Issam calls a “comic evening”.

”We cherished the family, a calm atmosphere and laughter” Issam says.

Big changes
Suddenly everything beautiful turned to ashes for Issam.

“(It was) just the expression of politics from an authoritarian and dictatorial regime, ( which) spilled blood in the streets, burned down my house and displaced my family into sections,” Issam says when explaining the eruption of violence that turned into a bloody war in Syria. “(…)one (part of my family, red.) is in Turkey, another in Sweden and Denmark. And they killed my dog Betty,” Issam says. Seemingly thinking of the horrors of the war he suddenly pauses and says: ”there are things worse than death”.

Issam now lives in Denmark. He is optimistic, but also troubled by the new life he will have to establish on his own.

“(There is a, red.) big difference between here and Syria. I feel lonely here because my family is far away from me,” he says. “But I am trying to adapt here because the doors of opportunities are open here more than in Syria.”

A factory for dairy and cheese
Back in Syria, Issam Zaqrit aspired to finish his studies and to help run the two factories of his father, as the father was travelling a lot between Syria and Italy. That dream has been made impossible, as the factories in Syria have been bombed.

Instead, Issam aspires to achieve his dream in Denmark with a factory for cheese and dairy. But one other ambition is as important to Isssam: “I will go back to Syria when safety comes back”.

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