I am Ayman and I am a refugee from Syria

Ayman Hirh was a successful marble and granite trader in the Jobar district of Syria’s capital, Damascus, before the escalating political situation in his country drove him and his family into exile. Because of his involvement as an activist in the 2011 uprising and President Al-Assad’s subsequent crackdown on any and all dissent, Ayman was forced into hiding before he was able to borrow $2,000 to bribe government officials to renew his passport and make his escape. He arrived at Heathrow airport in January 2012 and was swiftly relocated to Glasgow before reuniting with his family to build a new life in the UK. Ayman currently lives with his wife, Iman, and two children, Bishir and Bassil, in Edinburgh.

I met Ayman and his family just as this new mural, featuring his portrait and story, was finished on Camden Mews this afternoon. With his wife by his side and his children playing happily nearby, Ayman was visibly elated with how the piece, by street artist PANG turned out. I shook his hand and he was kind enough to let me take a picture of him with the piece. The mural reads:
“I am Ayman and I am a refugee from Syria. I was granted asylum in the UK in 2012. I was a successful businessman selling marble and granite across Syria, and living with my wife and two sons in the Jobar district of Syria’s capital Damasus, Every night before we go to sleep, we remember our home. I love my flat in Damascus more than Buckingham Palace. When I look at my children and see that they are happy and living a normal life, I think immediately of all the children still in Syria. #TheLongRoadEP.”


The mural was created to spotlight the plight of millions of refugees who have fled Syria since 2011,  as well as to publicize The Long Roada concept album due for release by The Red Cross on March 4th. The record is inspired by the real-life stories of refugees and asylum seekers and brings together major international artists including Robert Plant, Scroobius Pip, Kindness, Tinariwen and the Sierra Leone Refugees Allstars.

Ayman’s story had a happy ending, however, it is estimated that around 4.6 million Syrians are currently living as refugees, while an expected 6.6 million have been displaced within Syria; half of these are children.

88 Comments Add yours

  1. The Bioman says:

    We had Make Poverty History in 2004 – I say it’s time for another Global March given that it is such an emotive subject – set in the Region of the Bible such as it is – and givent that Armageddon didn’t happen. March March March around Edinburgh Again!!

  2. Great post, humanity is a blessing we can extend to all in need. I hope and pray that refugees and asylum seekers find refuge, safety and kindness wherever they end up living.

  3. That will make an interesting read.

  4. Mick Canning says:

    Nice to see one happy ending!

  5. lyart says:

    great street art, there should be more of those around…

  6. Excellent piece of art and how inspiring. best wishes

  7. myhighideas says:

    Great post… But it’s only one happy ending, while each day for many stuck in Syria has a sad ending.

  8. “I love my flat in Damascus more than Buckingham Palace.” What more do we need to know?

  9. A blessing to behold….a beautiful story told…thank you for sharing… 🙂

  10. beingismail says:

    Finally it was a happy ending for Ayman. Our prayers are with others in Syria.

  11. iampasha says:

    Story of patience and hope 🙂

  12. RegnaurHades says:

    It’s really really sad to see how terrorism has pushed the lives of million of people into the gutter. Because of the so called f***** isis. Normal people lives and thier family are guttered and ever more 90% of the people don’t help them because they fear that these people are from Isis including news channels

  13. Hoping that the situation will improve soon for the refugees. And believing that stories like this one help to do so. 😉

  14. talknuggets says:

    Can’t wait to see ” the long wait”. Such stories make me appreciate the little I have.

  15. taffiblog says:

    Hopefully, we will see a change in Syria, and those innocents and victims who are suffering are able to live in peace in their homes, without the constant threat of terror.

  16. japonicanyc says:

    I think we need short, concise things like these everywhere in busy, public places- to force it into peoples faces who otherwise would shun or not seek out the truth and the story…..people don’t want to learn about the troubles of the world? You don’t have a choice! You can’t just pass through life in the dark…

  17. I know there aren’t simple solutions to things like this. But the amount of hatred I’ve seen in relation to this crisis appalls me.
    There are children dying because their own country cannot or will not protect them. Why criticize those trying to help or those making a better life.
    Such an inspiring story.

  18. very interesting to read

  19. randallkyle says:

    this is definitely one of those stories that everybody has to read and be aware of; as far as Syria’s situation is concerned. it’s quite saddening, though, to see the present condition of innocent people, especially the children there in that country who are maybe living in fear…May the world leaders address this issue as soon as possible to,somehow alleviate the crisis that country and its people is suffering from….
    a good story to read before I go to my class…

  20. The story is so touching! I believe it will remind most of us to show empathy to refugees for they are human.

  21. writegill says:

    The dust bowl refugees had their Steinbeck – the current human tragedy is waiting for one.

  22. chekemdotty says:

    War destroyed everything ?

  23. pranjal99 says:

    Deeply touched..!!
    Also have a look at “she kept on walking” @ pranjal99

  24. anveshapriya says:

    A Beautiful post. Great street art and prayers for the ones still in Syria

  25. safferso says:

    I wonder how Britain has received Ayman? I wonder what discrimination and insensitivity his children will face here? Sorry, I’m spoiling the happy ending.

    1. Hi, he’s been here for 4 years and seems to have carved out a decent and pleasant life for himself and his family so I’m optimistic.

      1. safferso says:

        It takes only a single story to bring hope and a little faith in humanity. May there be many more like it!

  26. sadgirl1999 says:

    This is an amazing post. The suffering of the Syrians is constant and terrible.

  27. pranjal99 says:

    Please have a look at “she kept on walking ” @ pranjal99

  28. great story sir,inspiring

  29. nooradil98 says:

    Extremely poignant thank you very much

  30. wuyan123 says:

    Inspire the refugees

  31. I cannot imagine what it would be like to be displaced from my home country. Kudos to Ayman for making the best of his situation and being thankful for what he has instead of focusing on what he has lost.

  32. Plz read my blogs BTW,I keep them anymous

  33. run24601 says:

    I love this! If only mainstream media would show this sort of story, then the general perception of refugees would be far different.

  34. sophieellis says:

    such a beautiful and IMPORTANT insight. I completely agree with the above comment- of only this was in the mainstream media!!!

  35. Tieme Pool says:

    Good for Ayman and his family that is story turned out reasonable, although a heavy story.

    Many indeed aren’t that lucky. But even less are lucky to live in freedom.

    Thanks for sharing and take care!

    Kind regards,

  36. byhanan says:

    Pray for Syria. Pray, pray pray…. Keep on praying.

  37. eli baur says:

    Amazing story! Really inspiring story of triumph through injustice, incredible and unique perspective on the Syrian situation as well.

  38. Reblogged this on and commented:
    What a story!!!

  39. Karla Rivera says:

    The world should unite and help the people of Syria. In this world all need each other, I can not help nearby, but I send an embrace of solidarity to the entire Syrian population, we are all brothers no matter what nation or race we are, we must act now.

  40. mokitadreams says:

    The things we take for granted. Freedom, loved ones and shelter. Thank you for writing this post

  41. Brilliant post, here’s a related one of mine if anyone’s interested…
    Unity is so important in these difficult times. Thanks for such an inspiring story.

    1. Hi,
      Thank you for your spam. If you have something to contribute to the conversation and link to your own work, that is welcome. What you have just done, however, is not. Thanks

  42. wingz365 says:

    I like your site and am trying to follow it but for some reason it won’t accept my email.

  43. ZANAN AZIZ says:

    nice post and its making the reader thinking.

  44. CherryPie says:

    An inspiring story! Sad to know this man is one of the lucky few, but it does cast a glimmer of hope on the whole sad history.

  45. chris jensen says:

    Damn, sometimes i lose sight of how good i’ve got it being a fifth generation boy from the West Coast of Canada…

    One always love a happy ending..


  46. I think education about these issues are important and feel art can be such a powerful way to educate. What a beautiful man to express himself the way he did. Thank you for writing and sharing this.

  47. Luciana Mariano says:

    The world is going mad. ? Sad story, beautiful post.

  48. Raj Krishna says:

    thanx for sharing this story…

  49. edenszy says:

    I’m new to your site; you very kindly followed my blog so that prompted me to look at what you get up to! I think your blog is brilliant; the photos and titles are really engaging. How have I not heard of you, haha. I love the fact that you reference literature and art throughout your pieces (as someone soon to study English Lit I really appreciate that). I look forward to reading more.

    1. Hi Edenszy, Thank you. I hope you find enough to keep you entertained on here and good luck with the English Lit studies. -Rich

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