Sixteen-year-old Tarek travelled from Syria to Calais alone to join his friend and find his Uncle in the UK, leaving his mother and unborn sister behind in Syria. He spent six long months in the camp waiting for a chance to get his passage to safety.

“When I arrived in Calais, I managed to find my classmate from Syria in the camp who had left before me. It was hard because I didn’t have a phone and didn’t know anyone else. I couldn’t speak much English or French and wasn’t told about the youth centre, so I had nothing to do but wait.”

“I stayed in an area where there were other Syrians and then Safe Passage UK brought a translator to me to ask if I had family in the UK. I saw people leaving before me and I was upset because I wasn’t. But I had a lot of hope that if I stuck with the lawyers, they would get me out.

After four more months, Safe Passage UK told me I was finally leaving. They took me to a flat to prepare me for my journey. I was so happy because I had a shower and clean clothes and all the Safe Passage team from the camp came to say goodbye. They came with me to get my train ticket to England.

The big moment for me was when I saw a view of the ocean for the first time from the flat – then I knew I was really going.

When I arrived in the UK I was very happy, not scared or nervous. I had to leave Syria, but I kept thinking about my mother, and my baby sister who was born after I left, and that made me very sad.

I arrived in England in early September. I am fine here and very comfortable. I want to start classes, learn English and have an education – that’s one of the reasons I came here to join my Uncle. I want to tell the boys who are still in the camp to keep trying. There is hope and you can get out.”

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