Story
27 Jul 2022

She completed her studies at the general lyceum of Kavala a year ago. After her high school diploma, she continued her studies in computer science at the OAED pprenticeship School. Today she is doing her internship as a secretary at the pharmaceutical warehouse of the Pharmaceutical Association of Kavala.

This is just a part of  22-year-old Jilan Ali’s biography from Iraq, who came to Greece four years ago and didn't even know a single word in Greek.

Jeylan came to Greece with her parents and seven siblings. The 10-member Kurdish family lives in the Kavala Open Accommodation and works with diligence towards her integration into the local society.

Haval and Ali, Jilan's two brothers, also study hairdressing at the OAED Apprenticeship School after graduating from high school, while the 5 younger sisters attend primary schools, middle schools and lyceums of the city.

All eight children speak, write and read Greek, participate in school and social activities, have Greek friends and dream of a future outside the site, in universities and schools, where they can become financially independent , with jobs for themselves and their parents.

Jilan is the eldest daughter of the family. She speaks Greek, English, Badini, Farsi, Turkish and Arabic. As a member of the community in the site of Kavala, she was a volunteer English teacher to Farsi and Arab speaking women and at the same time  taught English at NGOs outside the site.

"At first I wanted to stay in Greece. However, my aspirations don’t end here.  I want to travel the world. But I don't know! I have patience and faith that everything will be fine in the end. Meanwhile, my family and I are waiting for the examination of our asylum application by the Greek authorities. My dreams are what keep me going.

Jilan and her siblings have many friends in Kavala. "Good and bad people are everywhere, but most people in the city are nice and friendly and I learned from my father that you win people’s heart with a smile. So I smile and say ‘good morning’ to everyone. All people’s heart softens with a smile and a ‘good morning’,” she says and adds that the Greek language and culture are of great significance thus  assimilation is challenging.. She feels proud to know Greek and to have been able to understand Greek culture.

 "I want to travel all over the world... yes, it's almost impossible, but I want it. I want to continue my studies at a good university, to be able to help people in need everywhere in the world and to see my family happy. They are very tired, but I remind them every day that smiling is the best remedy."

IOM supports the Greek authorities in managing the open accommodation facility in Kavala with the support of the European Commission.