A man who built himself a new life in Scotland after fleeing war-torn Syria six years ago has told how he still experiences nightmares about the regime to this day.
Mounzer Darsani, who arrived in Scotland in 2016, described the situation in his home country as “like hell”.
The 36-year-old packed his bags and left the Middle East to arrive in Rothsay, Isle of Bute, after he was freed from jail.
Thanks to his wife selling all of her jewellery, he was able to afford a passage out of his war-ravaged homeland.
The dad-of-four told the Record: “The situation was very, very bad – like hell.
“It wasn’t really my choice to leave but when living is that dangerous, you just want your family and children to be safe.
“My children and wife actually left for Lebanon before I did because at that time, I was in jail.
“I was taken because I am from a town that was against the regime. I was lucky and I got out, but it was a scary time.”
When Mounzer learned that he and his family were accepted by the British Embassy to live in Scotland, he could not believe his fate.
“After three or four meetings with the United Nations in Lebanon, I was told that the British Embassy had accepted me,” he said.
“I started to think about life with hope again.
“I still can’t believe I am here now, with my family, and we are safe.
“Sometimes when I am sleeping, I think I am still in Syria and that they are still coming for me. It is very hard, but I am okay now.
“I am happy to see my children growing up and they are at school.”
The dad has turned a new leaf and is well-established in Inverclyde, having opened his own two Orient Salon barbershops in Greenock and the Isle of Bute.
After being welcomed with open arms, he now considers Scotland as his home country.
He said: “The Scottish people are beautiful and this is my country now. I love it here.”
And, the barber of 23 years told how he felt the need to give back to the community that made him feel at home.
He has been giving out free trims to customers in the lounge of Beild’s Crosshill Gardens development in Port Glasgow.
“I felt it was only right to try to give back in a small way,” he said.
“I get a lot of enjoyment from talking to customers at Crosshill Gardens and hearing all of their stories so it was the least I could do to help make lives easier for them throughout a pandemic.”
Following the free haircut success, Mounzer has since offered his services to the wider community on the Isle of Bute and is in the process of organizing free haircuts at a Bute care home.
Mounzer added: “I’ll continue to offer my services, it’s important to me to always try to make a difference and I hope I have made a positive impact on their lives.”
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