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Retour sur | 14 Feb 2024

From Syria to France : The Love Story of Mays Kabouch and Gabriel Waked

This February 14, SINGA invites you to discover the story of Mays and Gabriel, a couple from Syria whose love has overcome the obstacles of war and exile. Their journey, marked by their determination to fully live their love story, is an ode to resilience and hope. They tell us how they found support in the SINGA community and how, today, they see a promising future for their family.

Can you tell us how you met and how your love story began?

We met on an exchange program between the UK and Syria. We got to work together a lot, so that by the end of the program it was hard for us to part and not have the chance to be together again. It was then that we realized that these emotions were in fact love.

How has your experience of exile shaped your relationship and your outlook on life and the future?

Well, when we returned to our country, we knew that our love story would be something we’d have to fight for in our society, particularly in relation to our families. In Syria, love between two people of different religions is almost forbidden, so we were sure that the chances of our relationship lasting were very slim. At the time, we had only two choices: either split up and go our separate ways with broken hearts, or move away from the eyes of society. So after much thought, we decided to leave our country and give our love a chance to live. And that wasn’t easy for two Syrians stuck in a country in the middle of a war.

What role did the SINGA community play in your journey as a couple and as professionals?

After 8 years of waiting, we finally got our visa and were lucky enough to be welcomed by France, and in particular by SINGA, which was the first community to open its doors to us.

Once you arrived in France, what were the main challenges you faced as a newcomer couple, and how did you overcome them?

Starting your personal and professional life in a new country and without support from family wasn’t easy. We had to rebuild everything from scratch: our social network, our studies and our professional projects. And frankly, we can’t imagine what we would have done without the SINGA community.

Thanks to SINGA, we didn’t feel alone in this ordeal, and it’s where we met our best friends… and not only that, because our first professional experience in France was also with SINGA! My husband was supported by the SINGA Paris incubator to develop his entrepreneurial project, and I joined the SINGA Paris association as an employee, which I now co-direct after several years.

We’d specifically like to thank SINGA’s co-founder, Alice Barbe. Without her support, her commitment to us since Syria, we’d find it hard to continue our fight in the name of love. She’s a wonderful person.

Now that you have a little girl, how do you see your future and what are your hopes for her?

We live in Paris, and over the past year our lives have taken an extraordinary turn with the arrival of our little girl, Katrina, into our household. This change has transcended our status as a “simple couple” to make us a truly united family. This new dynamic has given us a sense of optimism and hope for the future. When we think of the future, our greatest wish is to help build a more inclusive society for our daughter. We aspire to a world where Katrina can evolve in a serene and peaceful environment, where diversity is celebrated and everyone is accepted and respected. We are determined to play our part in making this world a place where inclusion and equality are fundamental values, ensuring a promising and fulfilling future for our family and for generations to come!

Looking back, what advice would you give to other couples going through similar situations of exile and resettlement in a new country?

Reflecting on our own experience of crossing over as a couple in exile and resettling in a new country, we drew some valuable lessons that we’d like to share with other couples facing similar situations.

First of all, open and honest communication is essential: about our values, dreams and perspectives. Secondly, keep faith in your love story. Remember that the strength of your bond transcends society’s norms and expectations!

Finally, find ways to celebrate the diversity in your life and remember that your love and commitment are stronger than differences, and that going through these challenges together will strengthen your bond as a couple.

Your daughter, born in Paris, is called Katrina. Can you tell us the story behind this name?

When I was still in Syria, I had a dream. I dreamt that Gabriel was leaving for France alone, leaving a little girl in my arms and telling me that she was a memento of him, and that I had to take care of her. And this little girl was called Katrina in my dream… So when we had our child in France, a girl, it seemed obvious to call her Katrina.