what to say

We employ a Syrian refugee in our restaurant. He works with us since roughly two months. Still struggling with the lingo, of course, he attends a language school on weekday evenings. This causes us some headache, as we really need his help in the late afternoon and evenings. But this can’t be helped for the remainder of the year.

He is a real nice person, more on the quiet side. Maybe this is owed to the fact, that it is so hard for him to communicate.

Being back at work yesterday, I learned, that he, let’s call him H. for now, is not doing well. So I enquired. By what his colleagues could gather, he just learned that his sister was murdered back home in Syria. And he can not get a hold of his own wife and kid any longer on the phone. Of course he is worried sick. And wants to get back to Syria to see where they are and what is going on. He doesn’t see the point of staying here in Germany any longer. Who would he putting himself through all this hardship for, if he can’t be sure they are still alive, hoping to join him here some time soon?

What to say to him? I just tried to find a simple, arabic term to express my condolences, but this is not easy. I can not read the letters and have no idea how to pronounce them. Anybody got an idea? A link to some dictionary translating the words and giving a sound sample, maybe?

10 thoughts on “what to say

  1. Thank you for this contribution as well as having and employing the charge (“Schützling”) at your place. The situation for the whole country of Syria and H. himself is terrible and mournful. If I knew and talked to H., I would like to say, that I mourn with him, share his grief and would try to find words of encouragement in the situation of uncertainty.
    I am sure, there is some professional asylum social councelling somewhere around to ask for support. Maybe at his living place or the next migration advice service at a welfare organization, church parish or mosque community.
    In the case, that H. wants to return back to his home, the Federal Office of Migration and Refugees offers assisted return, and they hopefully would counsel and support him.
    At our work with refugees in foreign languages, we often use the Google translator as assistant. Words and easy sentences are translated quite properly. They also provide pronunciation at the loud speaker symbol.
    Best wishes to H., your team and yourself.

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      1. … I would not recommend a return to Aleppo at this time as well. And I think, the assisted return programme would not do it either. Professional counselling might just help finding orientation and perspective. Friendly company and relationship is as important, I think. Concerning a touch or a hug, I am not sure as well and hope to learn more about. An intercultural no-go or a simple humane gesture? Finally a matter of the situation.

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