"Welcome James, welcome James, welcome, welcome." I’m not sure Alan stopped saying this the whole time I spent with him. Alan recently arrived in Turkey a couple of months prior to when I met him. He had fled Syria because of war happening there. He himself was a foreigner to Turkey but he wanted to do everything he could to make me feel comfortable and welcome while I was there.
I met Alan in a small town north of the Syrian border. I never actually planned to go to Midyat but I ran out of daylight hours while hitching so I had to stop in the next town. The driver of my ride into Midyat pulled up to the closest shop. Alan was working here and he told Alan he had to find somewhere for me to sleep. The first thing Alan said to me was “I’m sorry I’m not from here, I’m from Syria but I will somehow help you.”
I spent the next couple days with Alan and he told me his story and how him and his family had fled to Turkey at night for a safer life.
Alan is a refugee but until we talked he had no idea what a “refugee” was and he had never heard of the UNHCR.
I told Alan I wanted to see the camp where the refugees came when they cross the border. We walked about 5km out of town and soon found a small city of white tents covering the desert.
As we walked Alan said to me, “James , I want to ask you a question.” I was expecting something like “can I borrow some money”. The burning question on his heart was, “James, is it common for people in Europa to have sex?”
Maybe the only thing Alan has in common with other kids his age from the west is that he loves 50cent and he thinks Angelina Jolie is a babe.