An interview with Abeer Yaseen
Abeer is one the drops that many know from her story. Abeer is now living in Oslo, Norway, with her four daughters. She is going to school to learn Norwegian, and also works at the Drop in the Ocean’s office. When we ask her about how life is just now, she says: “…my four lovely daughters and good friends are my safe warm home. Even when my life is not very easy as a mother responsible of four children: School, to learn a new language, working, helping my girls with their homework and life in general, I am doing my best to encourage them to be good members of the Norwegian society.”
Abeer’s life hasn’t always been like this. In 2013 Abeer decided that enough was enough, the situation in Syria was too dangerous for her and her daughters and she made the difficult decision to flee to Turkey.
In Turkey she worked as a teacher, unpaid. Months went by and after connecting with a Norwegian Drop in the Ocean volunteer online Abeer decided that Norway would be the perfect place for her and her daughters. She would make the attempt of crossing over to Greece and from there continue towards Norway. It was to dangerous and expensive to bring all of here four children so Abeer’s mother came over from Syria to take care of them.
February 2016 Abeer crossed over from Turkey to Greece in a packed boat with other men, women and children. During her time in Greece Abeer moved around to several locations. First she came to Lesvos, then traveled up north, when she heard about the borders maybe closing, and also made several attempts to cross, but did not succeed, then she had no where to go and went to Chios after meeting a drop who told here that she should go there. In all of these destinations Abeer worked as a volunteer.
On Chios she worked as a volunteer for a Drop in the Ocean for four months. She had not given up on her dream of going to Norway, but decided that it was time to apply for asylum in Greece. In Chios, authorities denied her to hand in an application, and she therefore went back to Athens to make another attempt there. In Athens, she was met with another setback. At that point, Greece had stopped accepting asylum applications, and with closed borders, chances of being reunited with her four daughters any time soon seemed slim.
Desperate time calls for desperate measures, and Abeer got a hold of a false passport and soon found herself on a plane to Norway. She was quickly granted asylum and was able to start making a life in Norway. But here four daughters were still in Turkey.
After a long and slow process of getting her daughters to Norway, they finally landed on Norwegian ground on a November day in 2017. It was a heartfelt reunion after being apart for almost two years.
Abeer is a strong woman that we really admire. In relation to the International Women’s Day we have asked her three questions about this day and women’s rights.
Do you have any thoughts about the International Women’s Day?
Abeer: – Internationally I think there is still much work to be done regarding information and education on this theme – as many people around the world, both women and men still live in traditional societies where women’s rights are still almost no-existent.
How can we contribute to make women’s rights better for those on the run?
Abeer: – I think it’s crucial to involve women in plans about how the camps are organized to make sure there are safe spots for women to wash and use the toilets. And also that there is fair possibilities for women as the weaker gender, to get a hold of foods and necessities in competition with stronger, often more self-confident men.
How do you think this day can make a difference for women internationally?
Abeer: – Well, women can build more networks and share more stories. They can involve men who want to be involved. They can have virtual support groups that can help each other because difficulties faced are often similar. They have to raise awareness for equal pay. This I think is the most important part — EQUAL PAY. And all countries must have a holiday on Women’s Day so they can have meetings and March. 8th of March is only a holiday in 15 countries.