Here at Miksaliste, volunteers and refugees mix like one big family every day. One of our closest family members is Mustafa, a 14 year old boy from Anbar, Iraq. He’s been with us for three months, and recently became a volunteer at distribution, helping our team give clothes, shoes and blankets to people in need. He’s here with his parents and two brothers, as well as his uncle Ahmad and his wife and two children.
His family decided to leave Anbar when Daesh took over, and fighting became an every day struggle. Daily life became complicated, and even smoking an offense punishable by death.
“My uncle Ahmad, he would smoke inside, then wash his hands and everything with soap before going out,” he says with a smile.
Before all this happened, Anbar was a peaceful and safe place, where he went to school and played football, like most boys his age around the world.
His travels began through Syria and he lived in Turkey for three years, where conditions weren’t very good. He’s been in Serbia for three months now and finds that it’s better here, although the coming of winter is making nights a lot more uncomfortable at his camp.
Despite his difficult life circumstances, he’s not lost his wide grin and naughty boyish demeanor. The team here affectionately tease him that he is a “big problem,” but his presence has certainly made distribution a livelier place for the last few days.
“(Miksaliste is) very good. And the boss there, Albert, he’s very good”. Here, he’s made friends and finds the way he spends his time is a lot more fun and rewarding, as well as the food better than at the Bazaar.
He has hopes of returning home soon, now that Daesh has been kicked out of the city and things are returning to normal. “My small uncle in Anbar, he said everything is good (there now).”
But the process of going home is just as difficult and expensive as traveling the other way around, so, for now, he doesn’t know how things will go for him. In the meantime, he’s been picking up some Serbian and wouldn’t mind staying here, if the boss of his household decides so.
“Mom is the boss,” he says. “If my mother wants to go, we go. If she wants to stay here, we stay here”.