Swimming to freedom

Emily Elliott and Jocelin Egeland

Refugees Hesham Modamani and Feras Abukhalil swam five miles from the Turkish coastal city of Cesma to Germany to free themselves from the horrors in his home, Syria.

During the five mile journey, the two acquaintances created unforgettable memories and gave people back at home hope for a way out.

The two men could not afford a boat ticket to leave, but they also could not spend another day in their nightmare, so they decided to jump into the ocean and swim.

According to CNN, the trip took nearly 20 days and two months of planning.

“I thought it [the plan] was a joke at first,” Modamani said to CNN. “But when I looked at it, I felt I could do this.”

The two found it difficult at first to swim miles upon miles at a time, but after a while it became a wonderful experience.

“At this moment I looked up and saw a black sky full of stars, and I told Feras this is the most beautiful scene I have ever seen in the world that we must be of the very rare few to live this experience,” Modamani said to CNN.

Although they knew this journey would be an exhausting task, they believed the only way to escape would be to jump.

The streets of Syria are under a bloody civil war. According to British Broadcasting Corportation (BBC) 20,000 people have died because of the clash between President Assad’s government and the rebels who want him removed.

Similar to Modamani and Abukhalil, tens of thousands of refugees are escaping to countries in Europe.

Some people do not make it all the way and bodies are found washed up on shores. People are also captured and tortured for trying to leave.

“Those who are taken to jail might as well be dead,” Abukhalil said to CNN. “They disappear forever and their families are left without anything.”

According to BBC this is one of the largest refugee movements in history with more than eight million of the total population leaving the country, 50 percent being women and children.
Although leaving Syria is already a tiring journey, swimming through the ocean left Modamani and Abukhalil with unwanted obstacles.

“As we got closer to the first island, I heard birds circling. I thought they were vultures looking for bodies to eat,” Modamani said to CNN.

These refugees hope to inspire others with their victory.

“I don’t want anyone to suffer like I did again. I want to be able to stand up for people’s human rights” Modamani said to CNN.