Belgium as Syria. Brussels Attacks memorial, May 2016.

Marah, a teenage girl from one of Syria’s besieged cities, recently arrived in Switzerland as a refugee, where she is struggling with her first pregnancy and the potential breakup of her family.

It is really saddening to witness how our morals as human beings have deteriorated. People are willing to compromise themselves. They have many bad habits, and are not interested in fixing any of them. It hurts me to see how lying has flooded our lives. It has even become more prevalent than honesty and, unfortunately, people find all sorts of excuses to justify these practices. I always blamed external circumstances for the negative change that our society is undergoing, but I recently realized that we should not blame circumstances, but rather, we should blame people themselves for the choices they make.

When I was in Syria, I always thought that the war was to blame for people’s corrupt behavior. However, when I came to Europe, which I had always imagined as the land of knowledge and freedom, I realized that lies are everywhere. The moment I stepped into Germany I realized that even the government lies. The German authorities forced us to get fingerprinted and told us that that procedure would not affect our immigration status in our final destination, Switzerland. But we arrived in Switzerland, and we realized that what they had told us was not correct, and my family got into serious trouble because we believed that lie.

My mother has been trying very hard to stay in Switzerland. She has sent numerous letters to the refugee center explaining what has happened to us. However, two days ago, when I accompanied her to the refugee center for an interview, we were shocked to hear from the officer that they had not received any letters from her. It was shocking because she had placed every single letter directly in the mailbox, and none of them had been returned to her. I did not say a word, because I realized that whatever I said would not change anything. I was sure that they were lying about not receiving the letters.

They do not understand what they did to my family. My siblings no longer have trust in the system, and they now make fun of those who insist on being honest. “Look around you,” my little brother said to my mother, “there is no honesty in this world anymore.” I was shocked when I heard what he said. I pray that he does not abandon honesty and use lies to navigate his life in the future.

Our government in Syria humiliated us and lied to us, and now, the European governments are also lying to us. Where should we Syrians go? We have no place to find shelter.

Syrian refugee, with solidarity banner. Brussels, September 2015.

Syrian refugee, with solidarity banner. Brussels, September 2015.

My situation is different from that of my family because I got married to Karam, who is a legal resident. I am talking only about my family, but, unfortunately, many Syrian refugees have similar stories. These are people who have been through hell to get here, hoping for a better life for themselves and for their children. But until they get legal residency, their lives are miserable, and they cannot even work to provide for their families, which is one of the fundamental actions that makes them feel like they matter as human beings.

There are many laws here, but none of them deals with the needs of these human beings. A refugee may wait for more than a year before finally learning that his or her application was rejected. My siblings have lost six months waiting, only to now learn that they have to go back to Germany. I understand that Germany is a good place to live, but they have family here in Switzerland. Don’t we deserve to finally live together in peace?

Life has been really unfair to us. We are not looking for a life that is void of any troubles. We understand that going through bad experiences helps human beings appreciate the good ones, but for a long time now, all we have gone through are bad times and bad experiences, and this is not fair.

I know what I want. My goal is very clear to me. I want to empower myself through education. Being strong is the only way to achieve what I want, and I am working hard on that. I am more motivated now, because of my little baby. I want to raise him or her on honesty and respect. I will do my best to be a great mother. Oh, baby, I promise you that I will work hard to achieve what I want. It is for me and for you as well. Soon you will be next to me providing me with the most powerful motivation ever.

This article originally appeared on Syria Deeply, and you can find the original here. For important news about the war in Syria, you can sign up to the Syria Deeply email list. Photographs courtesy of Joel Schalit.