I just want a life for my family
It's a waiting game for thousands of refugees who have reached the border between Serbia and Hungary, but who are unable to cross. Not knowing what to do, they stay in this meadow near the border, some sleeping in tents and others out in the open. We spoke to Hassan and Rania and their young family, who told us about the uncertainty of being stuck between countries.
Barely 20 yards away from the Hungarian border, on a hill overlooking hundreds of tents, there’s a 13-foot fence topped with rolls of razor wire that gleams silver in the sun. Hungarian border guards in dark uniforms stand to attention in a long row that looks out across the families sitting in the meadow opposite.
Amid row upon row of tents, Hassan, his wife Rania and their young family sit in front of the small tent they are currently living in. Despite their current predicament, there is a rich vein of warmth and humor running through the family.
Two years ago, due to the conflict near their home in Aleppo, Syria, Hassan and his family fled to Turkey where he was able to find work and save money for two years.
“Turkey was good for work; I worked for two years to save enough money for us to make this trip," he reflects. "But there became too many people in Turkey.”
As Syria's neighbouring countries accommodated significant numbers of refugees, it became progressively more difficult for Hassan to find work in Turkey. But the main reason they left was to enable their children to go to school. While in Turkey, their children were unable to attend school because they weren't registered citizens and had no papers.
Hassan's plan is to take his family to Paris. “I just want a life for my family and school for the children,” he says.
“School is number one,” agrees Rania. As if on cue, their children repeat the mantra - “school number one!” they cheer, laughing.
From their light banter and easy conversation you wouldn’t know that the family were out for more than a Sunday picnic. Hassan and Rania’s two children, nine-year-old Sabrina and seven-year-old Ahmed, play in the soft, green grass.
When they were in Syria, the schools were bombed and closed, Hassan explains. Sabrina shakes her head sadly when asked about school; she and Ahmed have never had the chance to attend.
Since leaving, Hassan and his family traveled for a month and a half to where they are now; within sight of the Hungarian border, but unable to cross. Hassan and Rania are patiently hoping that the border with Hungary will open in the next few days. They’ve decided to wait for a while to consider whether they need to try another route.
Sabrina and Ahmed play with sticks in the ashes of a fire next to their family’s tent.
“Do they have toys?” somebody asks Rania, who is sitting in the doorway of the tent. She turns to shuffle through their belongings and pulls out a teddy bear, two stuffed rabbits, and a few others.
She smiles as she tries to remember the name of each toy as she tosses them in a pile. They are named after the countries they’ve passed through so far on their journey. Serbia is the last one, a yellow plastic bus with passengers.
Our staff in Serbia are busy distributing much-needed relief supplies to refugees along the Serbian border with Hungary - where many are arriving with next to nothing after a long journey. We are focusing on exhausted mothers and children, pausing for a few days on their epic trek to escape violence, persecution and fear in Syria and other countries. You can help us get vital supplies like food, water and family kits to refugees by donating to our Refugee Crisis Appeal.