High school sweethearts separated by Syrian war beg to be reunited in Saint John

·3 min read
Abdulaziz Cheikhmousa and Benecevin Ali were high school sweethearts in Syria before they were separated by the civil war. (Submitted by Benecevin Ali  - image credit)
Abdulaziz Cheikhmousa and Benecevin Ali were high school sweethearts in Syria before they were separated by the civil war. (Submitted by Benecevin Ali - image credit)

Benecevin Ali dreams of the day she can be reunited with the love of her life.

"I will have a heart attack that day," said the 23-year-old. "It's my dream to see my future husband and my family all together."

She started dating Abdulaziz Cheikhmousa, now 25, in high school, but they were separated by the civil war in Syria.

The duo grew up together in the city of Al Hasakah, about 650 kilometres northeast of Damascus. Their fathers were best friends.

As the war progressed, Ali and her family moved to Turkey and her fiancé was forced to move to Germany as a refugee. He works there as a barber.

The last time she saw him was eight years ago in Syria.

"Sometimes I say it's impossible, sometimes I say nothing is impossible," she said. "I don't know to be honest."

Moving to Canada

In 2016, Ali and her family were approved to come to Saint John as refugees.

Ali wanted to come to Canada to help her mom, who had previously been diagnosed with cancer of the blood.

"We were thanking God to come into Canada and for our future here," she said.

But a part of her heart is still missing.

Submitted by Benecevin Ali
Submitted by Benecevin Ali

"Everyone, they see their love. They get engaged. They get married and they have kids. My situation is far."

She's been trying to help Cheikhmousa move to Saint John with no luck. And she's calling on New Brunswickers for help.

She refuses to give up.

"It's not easy to find [the] right person," she said.

Loving someone from afar

Right now, Ali is only able to speak with Cheikhmousa through Instagram, Facebook and WhatsApp, with a five hour time difference. They talk everyday about their daily lives and their future together.

When she speaks with him, she said she feels strong, happy and more comfortable.

But they can't hold hands or hug "for real."

"It's like kissing glasses on the phone."

It was on Facebook in 2016, he asked to marry her.

"It's so hard to love someone so far from you."

Right now she is caring for her parents, paying her own rent and her parents' rent. She is also working as a caregiver in the port city.

She takes her family to hospital appointments, including her father, who also might have cancer.

"It's a lot of stuff on my shoulders," she said. "He was with me every single day."

Being a child, wasn't an option

Ali said she was denied a childhood and her teenage years because of her mother's declining health.

At that time, her mother and father travelled to Damascus for two years to get proper care for her illness, leaving their six daughters behind.

In Grade 5, Ali and her sisters were forced to take care of themselves.

When her parents returned, the civil war broke out.

As someone who has been displaced by war and forced to leave her home, Ali has some advice on love and relationships.

"If you love anyone, don't let them be far from you," she said.

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