New Neighbours

I Found a Little Slice of Aleppo in a Copenhagen Park

The leaves in Frederiksberg Gardens are the same colour they would be at home, this time of year.

by Mustafa Mohamad; as told to Lene Munk
29 May 2017, 5:00am

This article is part of our New Neighbours series, in which young refugees from across Europe guest edit VICE.com. Click here to read the introduction.

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Mustafa Mohamad is 16. He is Kurdish and from Syria, and lives in a home for underage refugees in Copenhagen's Frederiksberg neighbourhood.

I actually don't think it's that cold here in Denmark. The seasons and the weather in Aleppo are practically the same as here – Copenhagen is just a little chillier. I go for walks in Frederiksberg Gardens every day, the place reminds me of a park in Aleppo. The leaves are the same colour, like they would be at home at this time of year. You'd also always see a lot of women walking around the park in Aleppo with their babies in buggies – same as here.

When I walk around Frederiksberg Gardens, I think of all my friends from Syria – and my family. My brother is of age and lives in Valby, on the outskirts of Copenhagen, but the rest of my family has fled to Turkey. When I walk in the quiet gardens all alone, I remember everything.

All photos by Jonas Fogh

Back in Syria, I sewed pockets into trousers for a living. Here in Denmark, I go to school to learn Danish, English and maths. I find maths very difficult. Danish is hard as well, but I practice, and try to speak it as much as possible.

I used to visit the park in Aleppo with my friends. We would eat, just hang out or play-fight. My best friend is in Turkey now. Many of my friends have gone to Iraq and two are in Sweden. I miss my friends – I don't have that many here.

I'd like to show my parents around the Frederiksberg Gardens. I am not able to go and visit them in Turkey because of the security situation. I applied for a family reunion visa to have them brought to Denmark, but it was denied. That made me so angry, it's hard to talk about. I've appealed the decision with the help of a lawyer, but all I can do for now is wait.

I live in a dorm with other refugee kids. There are only boys living in my hallway, which means there's always a lot going on at all times. So it's really nice to be able to go outside to get some peace and quiet.

In the gardens, I'm able to gather my thoughts and talk to myself a bit. Sometimes I run – pretty far and fast. I'm also on a football team. About a third of us are refugees, the rest are Danes, and this weekend we'll be playing Brøndby – a Danish football team. I can't wait.

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