Not even Nicholas Sparks could have written a love story quite like this one. They all start the same, boy meets girl, girl thinks boy is moderately good-looking, boy wins girl over with his heart of gold and great personality. And they live happily ever after, right? Unfortunately, for so many who have fled Syria since the start of the war in 2011, happily ever after is a far off dream.
One day, a few months ago, he went by boat just to meet me… a small boat. It takes 11 days, just to get to Greece. 11 days. No food.
Hanan—now 19— first met Masop when she was 15-years-old. Hanan and her family had fled their home in Damascus to bordering Lebanon in 2012. She and Masop—originally from Homs, Syria—attended the same school in Lebanon, and it was love at first sight. Sort of. However, after spending a bit of time together, the two did actually fall in love, and Hanan shared just what won her over:
“I can trust him, he is polite, he loves me more than [himself]… He always cares for me, and reminds me of the good things about life, and teaches me a lot, maybe because I am [younger] than him. He is really good.”
It wasn’t long after that Hanan’s family got a call from the UN saying they could be resettled in Australia. In the midst of the excitement at the prospect of this new life, there was an equal amount of grieving for the couple because, unfortunately, Masop and his family would not be able to travel with them.
The couple vowed to stay together, and have exchanged phone calls and texts everyday, and video calls on Skype whenever they could. These things helped Masop continually remind Hanan that she held his heart completely. “He sings songs for me in Arabic…” she told me, and then proceeded to let me listen to a rap he wrote specifically for her.
أنا أعيش هنا مع جسدي فقط. روحي والعقل بعيدا. إلى هذا الحد.
I live here with my body only. My soul and mind are far away.
So far away.
Once Hanan and her family resettled in Wollongong, Australia, Masop made it his mission to someday see her again. Since Hanan was unable to travel back to Lebanon, he had heard many countries in Europe were accepting refugees. Thus began his plans to resettle in Germany. “One day, a few months ago,” she told us, “he went by boat just to meet me… a small boat [with his uncle and his brother.] It takes 11 days, just to get to Greece. 11 days. No food.” As many of us have seen in the news, more than 2,600 migrants are known to have died crossing the Mediterranean Sea in 2015 alone, according to the International Organisation for Migration. On top of that dangerous journey, he then would have to travel from Greece up through to Serbia, and then on to Germany. It would have taken love-struck Masop over 3,000 km to reach his final destination. “I felt sick when he went by boat, [and] he didn’t even tell me [he was going.]”
Hearing the news that Masop had traveled far and wide just at the prospect that he might be reunited with her, Hanan— accompanied by her father, Walid, and younger sister, Jinan— hopped on a plane to Germany in early May, 2016. “I cannot describe it, the feeling,” explained Hanan. “You feel scared, excited, sick.”
They spent 2 1/2 weeks together. In that time, joined by their close accompanied family and friends, Hanan and Masop said “I do” and promised to never give up on each other no matter what borders separate them. In May, 2016, Hanan arrived back in Australia, while Masop had to stay in Germany. Her deepest desire is that he would be resettled in Wollongong to start a life together without war, distance, or heartache.