From Syria to Stuttgart – My long road to Daimler

My name is Adham. I’m 21 years old, and I come from Syria. I used to live in Damascus. Life was good there. We went to school and we had goals in life. In Syria, people with different religions lived next to one another. It was never a problem. Back then, nobody could have guessed what would happen later on.

I lived with my family in Damascus for ten years. However, in 2007 my father decided that the entire family would permanently move to Daraa. Three years later, the war also reached my city, Daraa, which is located on the border to Jordan.

In order to survive, my family and I sometimes hid between huge boulders.

Suddenly it became too dangerous for me to continue going to school. Most schools simply closed. I had really loved going to school, but now we couldn’t even go out on the street safely. It was best to just stay at home. In this case I said to myself that things couldn’t go on that way. When I was 15, I left for Lebanon all on my own, without my family.

But it was very hard to find work in Lebanon. You need money to buy food. If you can’t get any work, you won’t eat! So I started to work sanding doors. But the sanding made my hands bleed. I sometimes had to work up to 20 hours a day. Sometimes I couldn’t even sleep.

You have to be willing to do anything for your family!

A few months later, my mother and my two brothers joined me in Lebanon. We couldn’t find an apartment, so we had to sleep on a balcony for six months during the winter. It was a small balcony, but at least my cousin gave us a roof over our heads. Unfortunately, he only had one room, which he needed for himself and his wife.

My mother went out into the street to look for an apartment for us, but she couldn’t find one. I don’t know if you can imagine what it’s like when your own mother goes out on the street looking for an apartment but can’t find one and then sits down on the street and starts crying.

The people who walked by looked at my mother, but nobody did anything. That was what I experienced in Lebanon. My father then joined us in Lebanon, but he couldn’t find any work. That’s why he decided to go to Turkey, where he met a man who promised to get us a visa for Germany. He said to my father:

Give me your identification cards!

Lebanon – before the war.

We gave them to him because we trusted him and because we had no other choice. But he simply stole all of my family’s IDs, as well as 2,000 dollars. Fortunately, we got new IDs. We were very relieved! My family then split up.

My father and one of my brothers were the first who traveled to Greece. From there they traveled via Italy to France, and in the end they reached Germany. The rest of us stayed in Lebanon. It took my father a month and a half to reach Germany. He submitted an application for family reunification, which enabled the rest of us to come to Germany, too. At that time, my father was already renting an apartment in Esslingen.

You have to do something if you want to have a good life

When I arrived in Germany, my top priority was to learn German as fast as possible. In the fall of 2015, I was notified by the local job center that I could start an internship at Daimler together with 40 other refugees. I was completely new here, and I didn’t even know what Daimler was. Then people told me it was “Mercedes”. After that, I knew what they were talking about, because Daimler is simply referred to as Mercedes in Syria. I was very happy to get the internship. I only had one thought in my head the whole time:

Nothing comes from nothing.

I really enjoyed the internship, which lasted for four months. We worked between three and four hours per day, and we also had a three-hour German language class every day. We could always ask questions whenever we didn’t understand something at work or during class. Everybody took the time to explain how things work. It was great.

I watched 270 videos in order to learn the German language

To improve my German and make contacts, I also played on the soccer team and registered for the gym. And it worked. I’ve made some good friends here. I successfully completed the internship at Daimler, and I learned German. Now I’m training to become a metalworker here at Daimler. I’m also involved in the council of trainee representatives. All of my wishes became true. But I’m already working to achieve my next goal, which is to become a master craftsman.

Left to right: Luigi Greco, Adham Alkhatib, Wolfgang Schall (master craftsman) and Manga Muzaffer.

Adham Alkhatib is in the second year of his traineeship in metalworking at Daimler. At the moment he is working on the engine assembly line in Untertürkheim. He likes the fact, that people from so many different cultures work together in harmony at Daimler.