Samer had a great life in Syria; a beautiful family and was working as a general surgeon. He had hopes and dreams of studying further and specialising to become a laparoscopic surgeon, but that was put on hold when the war began.
"During the war life was horrible. Bombings were occurring every day and you couldn’t walk around safely. You couldn’t guarantee that when you went to work you would return home safely to see your family," Samer said.
"My worst memory during the war was working in the hospital after a bombing. There were bodies everywhere and I had to go from room to room trying to help the patients. It was heartbreaking when everyone needed help and I had to prioritise the patient’s needs".
"During the last six months in Syria we were forced to move many times because it was unsafe. We spent a number of months in Damascus where I worked as a doctor looking after civilians as that area was under siege".
"It got to the point where nowhere in Syria was safe so we were forced to flee to Lebanon in 2012 in order to save our lives".
"We knew Lebanon would not be home forever, but I was able to contribute while I was there. I worked for Doctors without Borders as a General Practitioner. On a daily basis I would hear the horrible stories my patient’s experienced as refugees and their sad stories while living in Syria. Those stories still remain in my memory as nightmares".
While in Lebanon, Samer registered with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). The family applied for the Special Humanitarian Programme visa with the hopes of resettling safely in Australia. He and his family were granted a visa as part of the extra 12,000 humanitarian places made available by the Australian government in September 2015 in response to the conflicts in Syria and Iraq.
"One of the best phone calls of my life was when I got the news that our visas had been granted. I finally felt that we could rebuild our lives and I could guarantee my family’s safety to live as normal human beings," Samer said.
"Once we got the good news I started to prepare for my medical exam in Australia. I was keen to work again doing the job I love".
"We arrived in Australia in August 2016. We were so excited because I felt that our lives would change forever. Nobody would ask us if we were Syrian or refugees or for our IDs, there were no bombings on the streets and we could sleep well knowing we’d wake up in the morning."
"My great memory in Australia was taking our daughter Perla to enrol in school. It was a really great day. Everyone from the principal and teachers, to the kids and parents were so lovely and helpful".
"Also our everyday life is a dream and a good safe day; this is what we dreamed about".
Samer is very keen to contribute to back to the country he now calls home and use his qualifications as a general surgeon.
"I recently passed the Australian Medical Council exam part one and the occupational English exam so I can now apply for jobs in hospitals," Samer said.
"Once I have passed part two of the AMC exam I plan to start over my surgery residency as a general surgeon. After a year or two I hope to commence studying again so I can specialise here in Australia as a laparoscopic surgeon and realise my dreams I had back in Syria".
Samer and his wife Klarinate will shortly welcome a baby boy to their family and will have the perfect family of four they always dreamed of.
"Life in Sydney is great. Everyone here welcomed us when we arrived last year and made us feel at home. As refugees we aren’t here to have a luxury life, we are here to live like every human being. Here we are able to walk around the streets and feel safe and my family knows when I leave the house, I will return home safely".
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