Fareed Ruined My Life


As we walked up and out of the subway in Athens, our eyes met. Immediately I sensed there was a purpose to our meeting, so I crossed the street. One street crossing, a conversation with a stranger, and the trajectory of our lives changed.

Fareed’s story ruined my life. It tore us to pieces. I had heard about the conflict in Syria. I had read the news, but it wasn’t until Fareed described in details their journey it moved from a byline in a new clip to a face, a person with a name. It changed our lives. We realized the millions of fleeing Syria all have a name.

His daughters and wife stood by his side, close in age to our own. As he talked, my mind wandered. I imagined our girls sleeping in the park, smuggled across borders, threatened at gunpoint, and terrified as men’s dirty hands always grasped for them.

As I fall asleep at night, images of each of their faces tumble through my mind. Where are they today? I wonder what my life would look like if we never crossed the street that day and followed the prompting in my gut. My heart was in pieces as we walked away. I’m still working on putting it back together but I’m forever grateful I chose to cross the street.

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By Derek