Overthe Wall8-1-2016 Hoogeveensche Courant

East meets West

When I’m painting, I can forget the sadness for a moment

It’s already two years ago when Mahoud al Nahas saw his family for the last time. “The day I left Syria was the worst day of my life: the sadness and the tears in the eyes of my mum and the broken heart of my father because of me, there son, seeing me for the last time. This image I will never forget.” Mahmoud is born 26 years ago in Syria. He grew up in Damascus together with his parents, brother and two sisters. After his study 'interior architect' he also studied sculpture and painting. “I joined a lot of art expositions, but I also did murals. In my country I teached art and worked with refugees from different places from Syria who went to Damascus. I worked in a psychological support team. I helped refugees to show there emotions by art.”.

'I don’t want to be a killer'.

Two years ago there was a suddenly change. Mahmoud got the call from the army. The compulsory military service in Syria is 5 years. Mahmoud make a big decision because he don’t wanted to fight in a civil war and kill people. “I don’t want to be a killer.” Knows the artist for sure. “It meant I had to go out of Syria. This was very difficult for me but I had no choice. My brother wasn’t in danger because years ago the army exempt him from compulsory military because of his health.” Someone Mahmoud know gave him a phone number from people who helped him to go out of Syria. “I knew refugees died on the sea. But it doesn’t matter to me when this was my destiny. I had nothing to lose.” Just forget everything for a little moment Mahmoud is silent for a moment and he is thinking about that night he was on the boat with the other refugees from Syria. “It was very unreal. Some of the people were upset others were praying, everyone doing it on his own way. The sky was full of stars, and it was cold.” They arrived to a Greek island. After a short time the army of Greece catched them all and brought them to prison. It took more than a year before Mahmoud came to The Netherlands but he don’t want to tell more about that period of his life. In his friendly face his eyes speak sadness. “I’ve been at different places but I can’t tell you the details. It was hard, but it’s still. I miss my family very much but here in The Netherlands I met people I feel a little home again. I continue my life like an artist. When I’m painting I can forget everything what happened for a little time. I can put my emotions and feelings in it. For example the exposition of Jacob, I can give my ‘look’ at freedom from my life of the Middle-East.

Life is precious

Since December Mahmoud lives in his new house in Lelystad in a special community. He may live there with his status for 5 years. “I have really nice neighbors. I will start my life again, my life as an artist. With my paintings I can show people the Syrian culture. And I want help to process the traumas of refugee children with art. Like I did in Damascus in Syria. Do I regret coming to the West? No, it was worth it. I have to start again living my life here. But the fact I can live give me strength, life … is precious. I don’t understand why people take the certainty of other peoples life's away. I would like to tell them how important life is. Be strong and find out what life is. You can go through everything. Because everything passes and going to be alright.

© Monique Bons 
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