He has no home and merely the clothes he stands up in. She has a spare chamber. This is what happened when Yasser and Helen moved in together, as determined through both their eyes

You are not going to like me saying this, my pa suggested, but there is a requirement get a lock on your bedroom entrance and a lock on your shower entrance. Men can get extremely frisky when they are away from their wives.

I wheeled my sees, hung up and panicked. Id rung my parents to tell them that Yasser, a Syrian refugee, was coming to live with me while he arranged for his wife and baby to assemble him in Britain. I was a little nervous about these agreements, but of all the many things perturbing me would he disapprove of my single pagan lifestyle? Could I carry on having bacon butties at the weekend? Should I edit my glass cupboard? the possibility of going molested by my lodger had yet to occur to me.

I first had lunch with Yasser one day in August, after a mutual pal in Turkey told me he had arrived in Manchester and “havent had” teammates. She didnt tell me he was Syrian, or how he had reached our rainy island. So I was gobsmacked when, in extremely broken English, he told me of his 37 -day odyssey across district and ocean. He had voyaged in the various regions of the Mediterranean in an inflatable barge in the dead of night, even though he cant swim; walked from Greece to Macedonia, and swept Europe until he reached the Jungle in Calais, where he rushed on trucks for six nighttimes before attaining it to England hidden in the back of a lorry. After 17 hours packed between chests of playthings, he slammed on the door. The truck driver was ferocious: he would face a PS2, 000 fine were their own borders police to discover his human cargo. Yasser scarpered. He wasnt sure he was even in England until a gondola legislated him driving on the left. He trod to the nearest filling station and asked them to call the police. His new life had begun.

I wondered how I could help him. He was living on PS5 a daytime given to them by Serco, the outsourcing busines contracted by the Home office to handle asylum applications. While Yasser waited, he couldnt take paid drive and was living in a Serco house off the Curry Mile with another five asylum seekers: Syrians, Eritreans, a guy from Sudan. I asked if he fancied seeing round to help me row wallpaper on the bank holiday weekend. He concurred, but then I had to go and cover the world gravy wrestling championships in Bacup( try explaining that one to someone whose maternal language isnt English ), so left him to it.

When I got back, he had almost finished. We had an clumsy dinner together, then I tried to give him some coin. Yasser searched appalled. No , no, he suggested. I dont want coin. I miss friends.

Two days later, three-year-old Alan Kurdi washed up on a beach in Greece. The climate in Britain changed. Abruptly the kind of newspapers who usually guide legends about immigrants dining swans started picturing tendernes. David Cameron agreed to resettle 20,000 of the most vulnerable Syrian refugees and I offered my spare chamber to Yasser.

He was slow to accept, but before long, he was granted asylum and a five-year visa. We celebrated with a sickly patty he bought from a Pakistani baker on the Curry Mile( three days of his daily adjustment ). He showed me the character substantiating his refugee status: he had 28 daylights before he would be evicted from the Serco house, and less than a month to get a national assurance figure, sign on at the jobcentre and find somewhere brand-new to live. A tall order for a Brit, let alone a Syrian with ropey English and no coin for a deposit.

A few daylights before his ouster, Yasser texted, asking if he could stay until his wife and baby arrived. He had been to see a dwelling polouse and was told that, as a single 34 -year-old man with no dependent progenies living in the UK, he was low priority. His dwelling advantage of around PS280 a month would treat a chamber in a shared live with a private landlord( no chance of that, without a deposit) or a lieu in a homeless hostel, where he was likely to share a chamber with alcoholics and drug addicts.

I picked him up from the Serco house a few weeks later. All he had was a scratty duvet and pillow in a carrier bag, and a small rucksack. When he unpacked, I saw how little he owned: one jumper, one shirt, a pair of jeans, two vests, two pairs of underpants; it was what he had been wearing where reference is hid in the truck, plus what he had been given since his arrival.


Helen and Yasser eat their detached breakfasts. Image: Christopher Thomond for the Guardian

I recollected having Yasser to stay would be a kind of atonement for misunderstandings I have acquired in “peoples lives”, but his attendance has acquired me feel guilty. Guilty for what I have, for the easy life I conduct, for complaints about trivial situations. One daytime I get in a tizz about how to fit a brand-new drapery rail in my bay window. In my own country, beings worry about whether a cask projectile will thump their live. In England, you are worried about your draperies, Yasser suggested, laughing at his own prank. We all have our problems.

We have laughed a lot, but cohabitation is not without its niggles. The conversation obstacle is possibly the most difficult edition( praise be for Google Translate ), plus the fact that he doesnt have any coin and so is home a lot. I too find his preoccupation with war, nonetheless comprehensible, wearing. I dont like picturing pictures of dead people, and have had to initiate a no war at the dinner table policy.

Slightly frustrating, very, is his lack of importance in going a occupation. Yasser is no skiver: he volunteers every day as country offices administrator at a donation for Syrians in Manchester and is very keen to labor, only not in any old-time occupation. A trained Arabic teacher, he wants to teach, but is unqualified to work in UK schools. I went to the jobcentre with him to assemble his drive manager; she alarmed him hed be sanctioned if he didnt start applying for a lot more chores, through a baffling government website that even I find impossible to steer. He will too lose his benefits if he obstructs putting in for jobs he has no chance of going, she suggested.( One night I had to stop him applying to be social media administrator for the Sunday Sport .) But the penny seemed to be lowered that he will have to work his lane up from the bottom again. Genuinely, he wants to invest at the least 3 month on an intensive English track so that he is better furnished for the labour markets, but his manager insists that work must come first.

Yassers resilience astounds me. Ten instants before the photographer arrived to take photos for this article, he received a WhatsApp content from his wife, replying the people smugglers had arrived to take her and their 16 -month-old baby across the border from Syria to Turkey. He listened nothing again until 3 the following morning, to say they had been moving for nine hours in the dark and were now being held in a house; she didnt know where. Another 48 hours of stillnes transferred before she texted to say they had arrived in Gaziantep in Turkey. As I write, Yasser is formatting a DNA measure to testify parentage, so that the Home office cannot repudiate a family reunion visa.

What does he induce of my bourgeois life? He does not appreciate the middle-class preoccupation with sanded floorboards, when we could all yield wall-to-wall carpets. He cannot guess I own a cook volume holder. Cook works themselves he find entertaining; the women in Yassers life have always cooked for him( he is an good washer-upper) and his early forays into gastronomy appalled and amused me in equal amount. One morning he asked me how to turn on the oven. I demonstrated him, asking what he wanted to warm up. Safari eggs, he suggested. No sum of miming or Google Translate could induce me understand. It was something hed bought the previous night, he suggested, ransacking through the bin for the box of what turned out to be savoury eggs scotch eggs. Two situations you need to know about these eggs, Yasser, I suggested. One, we eat them cold. Two, they contain pork and you dont eat pork.


Christmas dinner was a plow: Yasser at Helens parents live. Image: politenes of Helen Pidd

Yasser generally ingests merely halal flesh, which posed a number of problems when Christmas succeeded round and he assembled me at my parents target near Morecambe in Lancashire. The Muslim population there is close to zero, and my mother was struggling to informant a halal goose. I interpreted this to Yasser. He thought about it and used to say, because my parents are Christians and Christmas is a Christian holiday, their turkey is likely to be holy; halal mostly means holy, so he could have it. But he described the line at animals in coverings; Mum did him a Linda McCartney sausage.

I invited Yasser out of duty, but it culminated up being a exhilaration. Throughout our childhood, my parents had riled my sister and me by inviting which is something we rudely referred to as waifs and digress to join us for Christmas dinner. Random Chinese students from my papas district at colleges and universities, junior doctors my mum was administering, an eccentric noblewoman from faith called Valerie who was too busy hoarding to soak. Now it was my bend. Mum invited a Ukrainian clas she had convened through her stroll group. It was an eclectic meeting but a lovely one, is characterized by activities that required limited or no English. Mum formed me play Going In The Air on the piano You get worse each year, she suggested( thanks, Mum) before we all watched The Snowman and then played monstrous Jenga before attacking a Wheres Wally? jigsaw.

Yasser is very keen to adapt. Early on he noticed that beings in Manchester say hiya and call one another love, and started passing both into his textbook meanings. I joked hed be calling me our minor by Christmas; instead he is developing a fabulous northern accent. We watch rubbish TV together. Formerly, during Dont Tell The Bride, Yasser said he couldnt believe that the bride was so obviously pregnant as she trod down the aisle. Apparently , no one has copulation before union in Syria. I do not tell him when I go on dates.

Despite our culture gaps, he is keen to contribute to civic life. When he saw the floods in northern England on TV on Boxing Day, he organised groupings of Syrians to help with the clear-up and formed international report.

They say it takes a whole village to raise small children; I think it takes a whole community to integrate the status of refugees. All of my friends have chipped in, whether the government has just talking to Yasser at parties, teaching him English, or sterilizing him up a bicycle and picturing him how to go it safely. Sheila from over the road has offered further English world-class, and a barrister neither of us has convened has bought Yasser a bunk and mattress for where reference is eventually has his own home.

In the meantime, he can stay with me, in my terrace house in Manchester with its silly wooden floorings, and no lock on the shower or bedroom openings. Helen Pidd


Helen and Yasser in Jeremy Corbyn and David Cameron Halloween outfits. Image: politenes of Helen Pidd

Living with the status of women is not common in Syria: me and my British landlady

I was a bit uneasy when I first moved in Helen is an achieved, hard-working English woman, who has her own lane of doing things. We come from very different backgrounds but we get along with fine. She was so affable asking me to abide. I belief she caused it three times before I abode I wasnt sure if she was just being respectful. The opinion of living with an English woman was strange, but I required somewhere to stay and it would be a great opportunity to learn about British culture and practise its own language. That would induce situations easier for my partner and daughter when they come.

The first thing I recollected a bit strange was when Helen told me what time she was leaving the next morning and said shed need to use the bathroom at a certain time before that. In Syria, shower habit is never governed. But I was glad she was being clear, so I could be as feelings as possible.

Another thing that was unexpected was the cookery books Helen has in her kitchen. In Syria your mum tells you how to cook , not a volume. I too discovered beings here wear their outdoor clothes even when theyre dwelling. Why would anyone want to be in jeans when they dont “re going to have to”? The first couple of weeks were a bit strange for both of us, I belief. Like the first few minutes in a football match, where both teams are a bit cautious of each other.

Living with the status of women is not really common in Syria. I had female friends and united go out, but living together was never a possible. Here, beings have fewer social restrictions: I have met two of Helens friends who are women and married to each other, with children. This was brand-new to me.

Soon after I moved in, Helen threw a Halloween party my first. She dressed up in a fake white-hot whisker, with pitch-black echoes round her sees. Im Jeremy Corbyn of the Labor party, she suggested. Then I should be David Cameron, I replied. I didnt actually entail it, but Helen liked the relevant recommendations. I acquired a suit and shaved my whisker. She learnt me some catchphrases about hard-working class, low-grade charge something and dwelling welfares. The opinion of a Syrian refugee dressed up as David Cameron was extremely humorou for other beings. Beings drank so much at the party. I couldnt guess the recycling bin the next day!

I had a good time and situations began to be less awkward. Every one of Helens friends offered to help me if need be. Some of them offered to help me with my English. You listen situations about British beings; that although they might smile at you, they never demo their true believes. This hasnt been true for me. Although I come from a completely different culture, I found something very familiar. Beings are cherishing, astute and compassionate, both here in Britain and back in Syria.

Helen invited me to invest my first Christmas at her parents in Morecambe. They live in the most beautiful part of England Ive determined. The live was high up and “youve seen” the high seas. It was astonishing; I invested an entire night ogling outside the window.

Although Helen isnt a churchgoer, she went with her parents as she said it was important for them. I ran along. Helen beckoned to me so I would know when to sit down and when to stand.

Christmas dinner was a plow. The turkey was so good. And I received some endowments. Helen gave me a book by Dan Rhodes called Anthropology its full of interesting legends and good tradition for my English. It was such a astute talent. The daytime was truly joyful. I had weepings in my eyes.

Helens parents hospitality and kindness formed me should be considered clas. I wondered why Helen doesnt visit them more frequently. “They dont have” warmer experiencing than “ve been with” clas. I guess its one of those situations you merely acknowledge after theyre gone.
Yasser Al Jassem. Carried by Mowaffaq Safadi

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