Ghassan and the Lerche family
Ghassan and the Lerche family
Ghassan is a 30 year old Syrian graduate and qualified accountant, who was holding down jobs in Syria and abroad. He is the father of two little girls, one of whom he hasn't actually met. He spent two years living in England applying for his refugee status.
Jessica and Jens Lerche and their three teenage children had just moved to a new, larger house when they first registered with Homes for Syrians. They were our first hosts and continue to allow Ghassan to live with them while he prepares for his family reunion. .
It feels like a very small thing to do to give Ghassan the use of our tiny spare room for as long as he needs to find himself a job and get ready for his wife and daughters to join him. It has certainly been very interesting and eye-opening for our three teenagers having him to stay.
Hosting refugees seems such a simple and straightforward thing to me. These are people who have been recognised as deserving and who have permission to live and work in the UK. There really is no question about their status.
I think back to after the second world war and the stories of my family and friend's families living in London and it was just a given that if you had space you would give up a little of it to people in need. Its just part of being human. I find it interesting the number of people who seem almost embarrassed - they don't know how to talk about it. What I hope, I suppose is by doing it ourselves and by people meeting Ghassan is that other people might be inspired to give it a go.
We had a spare room - it wasn't an issue. I think it is more at that time we were both quite upset that no-one seemed to be doing anything about the big refugee problem in Europe and Britain just seemed to bail out. We wanted to do something and this was actually a really easy thing to do and Ghassan is actually a great guy so this was much easier than one could have hoped for.
Initially I was more annoyed about it because we just had a lodger who took up quite a lot of our house and I liked the idea that we were moving as we would have more space. Initially. Then as it went on I realised that it wasn't a struggle because Syrian refugees are so grateful for the help that they won't take anything for granted and will completely respect the boundaries. I have felt completely comfortable ever since Ghassan has arrived. He is a great cook - I am a fan of the chicken!
Vita (who had no reservations)
I felt quite strongly about what was happening and felt that we should be doing something, especially the amount of people in England who I know, even my age, that thought it was strange to take refugees on really got to me. It felt like something I had to do as it was something I really believed in. I don't regret anything - he is a great man and he has been great to be with. Its not that he is just living here - he is as much a part of the household, in his own way, I mean he is great at looking after himself but also he is also contributing to everything else. He's lovely.
I am extremely thankful for this fabulous family who hosted me. They didn't just offer me a place to sleep, they have also filled a space in my heart that I miss since I left my country. I would like to thank Mr Jens and his wife Jessica for the generous advice they have offered me and the help in improving my language and help in filling in forms online.
I would also like to thank them for their kind and lovely children who were very welcoming and I hope I can show them a nice image of the Syrian people who left their country and I hope I can pay back some of the warmth and tenderness that thay have shown me.