Damascene falls in love with Vienna
Originally from Damascus, Mouhanad fled his war-torn country in 2012. He initially went to Libya, and eventually embarked on the perilous journey to Europe in September 2015. After six rough days on the road, he stopped to shower and rest in Vienna. And, in those 48 hours, Mourad says he fell in love with Vienna and decided to stay.
As soon as he got to a refugee reception centre, Mouhanad started helping in the kitchen, learned the language and made friends. He got his asylum papers in six months and soon after, moved in with his new flatmates.
He is standing on his own feet very well.
Valerie said the roommates were initially concerned Mouhanad might require a lot of assistance, and guidance. They were pleasantly surprised.
“Mouhanad knows more people than we do. His list of contacts is incredible and we didn’t have to step in – he doesn’t need us at all,” Valerie said.
“He is standing on his own feet very well,” said Roman. “We thought we might have to look after him like a younger brother but we didn’t have to do anything. He’s also very orderly, very organized, a very German Syrian.”
Nora describes Mouhanad as very caring, always smiling and giving back to others. “He found his place in Austria very quickly,” she said.
Mouhanad co-founded a group called Refugees for Refugees and wants to get his Master’s degree.
Portrait by Aubrey Wade
Assisted by Stjepan Sedlar
Text by Nadine Alfa
This story is part of the No Stranger Place series, which tells stories of refugees and locals living together in Europe. The project was initiated by Aubrey Wade, Sarah Böttcher and Stjepan Sedlar, and developed in partnership with UNHCR and Nadine Alfa.