“People I meet are always comparing life in Germany to life in Syria. You cannot compare” says Kinan.

“If people just forget the past a bit and only look forward, I think integration will be faster and better.”

“Integration is not something that we should only ask from people coming into our country. We should ask this of ourselves too” says Chaim Jellinek, father and husband.

In Damascus, Inas had run his own wedding dress making business. It was successful, employing sixty people. When he closed up shop to leave, he left with just a few bags. The hardest thing about arriving in Germany, Inas says, was not being able to read or understand anything around him. “Suddenly I was not a grown up man with a life anymore. I felt like a child.”

After a period of adjusting to each other, life together has settled into a comfortable rhythm.
“We had been wanting to help the entire time [the refugee crisis has been going on],” says Wilhelm, “but we didn’t really get a move on. And suddenly this opportunity was presented to us on a plate, the chance to help someone totally nice.”

“We knew we had to tell him we were gay before he moved in. But how?” Inas still only spoke a few words of German and English. “So we showed him our wedding pictures. He shook our hands and said ‘no problem’, as he says about anything.”

“It’s been like real family life,” says Wilhelm.

“Berlin and Homs are very similar,” Says Newruz. “In terms of food, cycling around the streets. Maybe the markets are a bit bigger here.

Meissen was very different, but Berlin is like my city and I have a few friends here now.”

“At the end of the day, we are all refugees,” says Claudia with a smile.

Charlotte says: “It’s amazing how confident they have become since they’ve been here. They were so shy at the beginning. They are so full of surprises.

We learn so much from each other and we enjoy ourselves.” Miriam, a budding photographer, says: “When they don’t clearly say what they want or need, because they don’t like to cause any inconvenience, it can be difficult.

“But it’s getting better as they are starting to accept that we see them as part of the family.”

“My neighbours have not been the most welcoming” says Uta. “I had to end friendships with people who didn’t accept what I was doing. It was a shock to see how mean and small minded towards others people can be. It’s exhausting. You really hit the edges of your energy and patience.”

But on the positive side, Uta says, “I’ve never learned so much in my life since having Hamid here, about religion, food, and other cultures.”

When challenged by neighbours and acquaintances about Hamid she says “He’s my son – you just have to get used to it.”