Here at the General House – Villa Santa Maria – we have two Christian Syrian Refugees with us: Mafoud and Feraz. They came to us through the "humanitarian corridor"
, a pilot project carried out by the Community of Sant'Egidio, in collaboration with the Federation of Evangelical Churches and the Waldensian and Methodist Churches, completely self-funded
.They have both learned Italian, are employed, and preparing for a new life…..
Here is a summary of Mafoud's story: "The place I come from in Syria has always been fully Christian. Despite the war we have never wanted to be involved. However, in 2013 we were told by the Islamic militia 'if you are not with us you are against us', then they began to harass us through the explosion of car bombs, and firing of rockets into our city and homes.My grandmother and a young cousin of mine were killed in these attacks. I also received shrapnel burns, and embedded metal in my arm. I have seen many people killed, and too much blood.
Mafoud provided this image of his city being bombed
I was studying engineering, away from my city, and the authorities at the university damaged my documentation when they found out I was a Christian.I changed universities.However, after sometime at the second university I and a Christian friend were kidnapped, blindfolded, and taken to an unknown location for 4 days – we could not talk under pain of being beaten up.Eventually we were discovered and returned to our families.
My father insisted that I leave Syria.He sent me to Lebanon, where I was able to get employment, since as well as Arabic I can also speak English.However, it is difficult for Syrian refugees in Lebanon. I experienced rejection there, at work, and even in the Church.A Syrian Priest who witnessed this rejection offered me a way to Europe through the Sant'Edigio community, who brought me here to Italy, in 2017.
The Sant'Egidio community helped me learn Italian, and have enabled me to find employment.They, and the Marists who have given me a place to live for this transition time, are my true friends and community here.I have no relatives.When I finish my probation at my work-place, and take up fully-paid work, I will move into my own accommodation.I will save my money, and try to bring my own family here to Italy – at least for a visit, to see them again.
Meantime, I am part of the Sant'Edigio humanitarian corridor team to welcome others to Italy.I go to the Airport to welcome other refugees, and to help them settle and begin a new life here. For me, faith and prayer are everything, Jesus sustains my life.In him I trust for my future.I am continuing my studies. On the bus, to and from work, I study the German language as I see languages to be my passport in life.My hope is to eventually complete my degree in engineering, and to become an engineer like my father".