My name is Yusef and I am 18 years old.
Where are you from?
I come from Syria, from the Kurdish city of Hasaka. Later I lived in Damascus.
Why did you come to Austria?
Because there is war in our country and I should join the Syrian army at the age of 18. The PKK also enlists all men over the age of 18 to their army. But I do not want to fight.
I wanted to come to Austria because the husband of my sister was in Austria for a year and three months.
Where does your family live?
One of my sisters has a husband who works in Istanbul. That is why we went there. Now my parents and two of my sisters are living in Istanbul. Another sister is living in Macedonia near the Greek border. My brother Shivan lives with me and two of my brothers are still in Damascus.
I am the youngest of the siblings.
What did you do in your homeland?
From age seven I went to school. I had to repeat two classes because of constant conflicts; I could not go to school very often. I couldn’t finish a further year because during the mid-year school holidays, the fighting was coming closer and closer to my parents’ house and I couldn’t leave the house. So I finished elementary school a few years later than usual. Normally you finish elementary school aged 12, I was over 14 when I finished. It was very difficult in Damascus. I am a Kurd and Sunni and lived with my family in a district where only Shiites live. After school I worked for a year in a sweet shop as a salesman, because I couldn’t go anywhere.
At the age of 15, I fled to a relative in Qamishle: my brother Shivan, who is two years older than me, had previously escaped there too. My whole family apart from two brothers came with me. The situation was getting progressively worse. We stayed for about seven months in Qamishle then we fled with the family to Turkey. My brother Shivan was already there. He was working in a factory as a tailor. I lived in Istanbul for a while and worked with Shivan in a textile factory. Then we decided to go to Europe.
Which languages do you speak?
I speak Arabic and Kurdish. A bit of English and a little German. I taught myself English during the last year.
What are your hobbies?
I play football!
What plans do you have for your future in Austria?
I would like to become a football professional, play in a club, train.
If that does not work, I would like to work as a tailor and learn this profession really well.
What would you like from the Austrians?
I wish more help learning German from the Austrians, because that is the key to everything else. I just want starting help, that’s very important. After that I would like to do everything myself.
Would you like to say something else?
Yes: Thanks for everything, thank you! And I promise to become a good fellow citizen in Austria.
With the help of donors we have financed a German A2 course from September to November (fees and tickets) for Yusef.
Now we hope that with the help of generous donors he will be able to attend the follow-up course from mid-November.