It has been just over a year since Mahmoud and his family were resettled in the small town of Torsby in central Sweden. Coming here was a dream come true for this young Syrian boy, who – like so many of his generation – suffered the traumas of war only to discover that life in exile often presents new perils.
After fleeing Syria with his family, Mahmoud spent two years in Egypt. Unable to attend school, he was mostly stuck at home. When he ventured outside, other boys in his neighbourhood bullied him repeatedly for being Syrian. When the family decided to send Mahmoud alone on an illegal boat bound for Italy, Mahmoud's suffering only increased. Within hours, the boat was shot at and Mahmoud was sent to detention. It was days before he was released.
But Mahmoud doesn't like to look back, for the past is still too painful to recall. He is determined to make the most of all that is on offer in his new life in Sweden. In just one year, he has learnt to speak Swedish fluently, has made a name for himself on the football field and is now trying his hand at ice hockey.
Mahmoud has also earned the respect of his classmates and teacher, who no longer see him as 'the Syrian refugee'. To them, he is quite simply Mahmoud, just another boy in the class. And that is exactly what Mahmoud dreams of – the chance to live a normal childhood once more.
Read Mahmoud's story: Escaping by Sea