Rema Beshtawy, 29, a Palestinian from Syria, has been living in Cyprus as an asylum-seeker for the last two years. A graduate of English Literature who used to work at a nursery school and as a private tutor, Rema fled the war in Syria together with her son, Atif, and her parents in search of safety in Cyprus.
“We lived in safety and stability. My parents used to own a restaurant. We had a good life. But after the war no one felt secure or safe. Kidnapping, theft and killing were part of the daily routine. Inflation and scarcity of basic goods such as water and electricity made living even more difficult,” says Rema.
Rema always dreamed of continuing her studies abroad but even before the crisis, being stateless was an impediment to realising her dreams.
When she felt that there was no end in sight to the Syrian crisis, she took the decision to come to Cyprus with her son and parents. Her brother was already living in Cyprus.
“Syria is so close to Cyprus, and it was safer for me, my son and my parents to come to Cyprus. We came by aeroplane to the north and then crossed to the south,” says Rema. “Besides, Cyprus and Syria have many commonalities – the food, like koupepia and kolokasi; the weather, to name a few,” she adds with a warm, nostalgic smile.
Rema feels safe and reassured about her son’s future in Cyprus. “Atif is eight years old and goes to a public school. He learned Greek quickly and today he speaks like a Cypriot,” Rema says and feels grateful that her son can get free education in Cyprus.
“We are lucky to be entitled for free education and I would like to thank the Ministry of Education for this as well as the teachers for their caring concern and support to my son. My son is happy at school and when he’s happy I’m also happy.”