My name is Shvan, I’m 20 years old.
Where are you from?
I’m from Syria. I was born in the Kurdish city Hasaka, close to the borders of Iraq and Turkey. But later I moved to Damascus.
Why did you come to Austria?
Because of the war. The Kurdistan Workers’ Party – PKK – is very powerful in Hasaka. They force young men to join the militia. And the Syrian army is conscripting all men over 18 years. But I don‘t want to kill anyone.
Where are your family?
My parents and two of my sisters are in Istanbul. Two brothers are in Damascus. Sadly, one of them has been missing for the last two months. The police and the Iranian militia imprisoned him two months ago because he is Kurdish. Since then we haven’t heard from him. One of my sisters is in Macedonia another is in Linz and has applied for asylum there. My younger brother Yusef is here with me.
What did you do back home?
I was at school and during the holidays I always worked as a waiter. After school, I wanted to study the additional three years required to then go to university. I had hoped to study medicine. Unfortunately being a Kurd makes everything more difficult. I spent two years and two months living with relatives in Damascus until the PKK came and detained me for three days. They wanted me to fight with them. I told them I’d do it, but said that I needed to pick up something from a friend. They believed me and let me out of the prison and I fled immediately to Turkey. I was very lucky.
Which languages do you speak?
I speak Arabic and Kurdish. I grew up speaking both languages. As a refugee I spent seven months in Turkey and worked as a tailor. I learnt quite good Turkish during that time. And now I can speak a little German.
What are your hobbies?
I love music and playing the bouzouki which is a Kurdish stringed instrument. Sadly I couldn’t bring my bouzouki here with me. I like to sing along to it.
What plans do you have for your future in Austria?
I would like to take the Matura, go to university and study medicine. That’s always been my dream, but because of the situation at home I couldn’t continue my studies.
What do you want from Austria?
I am surprised by Austria. Every day there are different rules for refugees. That’s not good.
Would you like to say anything else?
I would like to say thank you to all those who understand me and help us. I know that these people are not responsible for the politics by which the rules are constantly changing. I hope that I can stay here. I don’t need a lot of help – I just want to learn and work in order to stay.
With the generous help of others we have been able to finance Shivan’s attendance at a German A2-course (tuition fee and travel) from September to November.
We hope that with further donations he will be able to take the following course from mid-December.