Nearly two months ago, I was talking about a Syrian girl who had to leave school because she was bullied. Her name is Tasnem. For nearly two months, I got on with my classes, coming in each morning and feeling a bit sad that she wasn’t there anymore.
Early this Sunday morning, my phone rings. An unknown number shows on the screen. I’m surprised but pick up anyway. A hesitant voice calls my name on the other end. I have no idea who that is. “Hello? Who is this?”, I ask. A girl’s voice repeats my name a second time, then hangs up. The only people calling me by my last name being the kids from school, I first think of a prank and already begin to worry about how many other similar calls I’ll get if one of the kids got his or her hands on my mobile number.
The only kids capable of doing would be some tough kids in my class, but as I’m trying to narrow my field of search, the phone rings again. I pick up. My name is said again, then “Hello, here is Tasnem!”. My Syrian girl! I had given her my phone number as she had left the school, much to the dismay of the other teacher. The teacher had asked me what I thought I was doing. I had replied that Tasnem no longer being my student I could give her – or her father – my number. She couldn’t say anything against that. The father was seemingly happy about it as well as Tasnem. I had also profusely apologized to the father for the way his daughter has been treated at school, and by the school, as I thought it was disgraceful that this girl had to leave the school because of bullies, after all she had endured before reaching Germany.
I’m sitting on the edge of the bed, fully awake now. My Syrian girl! I’m so happy she finally reached out! She is still very hesitant and hasn’t gained much more German vocabulary, so she asks “What’s App?”. Yes, I use it, she can write to me there. We hang up, and a couple of minutes later, I receive a bunch of hearts through the messaging applications. We keep on talking there. She’s very happy in her new school, apparently no bullies in sight there. I’m so glad to read that. She asks me how I am, I tell her about my upcoming trip to Greece, she says she’ll tell her friends in Syria. I hope she won’t send them my way on Lesvos though.
I know now that Tasnem is happy. As for the bullies, two of them dropped out of school at the beginning of the year, one being the girl who was beaten up by her father. I tried to help her, many a time, but we reached a breaking point when she began to bully Tasnem. Teachers aren’t supposed to take sides. The bully girl saw I didn’t approve of her behaviour and this led to her losing trust in me, and then interest in school. I tried, and I failed, to put her back on track. She left the shelter and went back to live with her abusive family. Had things been handled differently at school, would she still be there? Was she old enough to discern between good and evil? Should have someone, me perhaps, done more for her? In total, she was placed into a shelter five times. Each time she went back to her family. Who wouldn’t, no matter the help? Who wouldn’t trust his or her family more than foreign institutions? Still, I feel sorry for her, but today I can only be happy about having heard from Tasnem and knowing she’s now a happy girl. One can’t save everybody, and sadly they are the ones left on the side of the road. I hope it won’t be too hard a journey for those, as they also carry their own share of sufferings.