About Refugees, By Refugees

Barry Mamadou Seidou

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Nationality:

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Italy

Sierra Leone

Sierra Leonean

Mouhamed Yaye Traore

I have a big dream,” says asylum seeker Barry Mamadou Seidou (pseud, 22). “I want to be educated, have a good job, have my own family, help my peoples around me.” Barry left his home in Sierra Leone “for safety.” He doesn’t want to discuss the details, only that: “leaving my country is one of the most painful things in life because I was born there, grew up there, have friends there, my family, everybody is there.” Having arrived in Europe by road from one country to another, he now feels safe. But when he thinks about his life in the refugee camp where he lives in Prato, Italy, he says, “there’s a lot of challenges in life when I’m here in Europe because I face challenges that I never faced in my life. But sometimes I feel like they make me strong, to make me feel like who I am.” Having patience and the ability to “let some things go,” is how he says he’s been able to survive. He adds, “there is nobody now who is encouraging me. I encourage myself… I think everything depends on me.”

Trigger Warning:

full interview

Okay, how… what kind of housing do you live in?
I live in the project.

In the?
Project. Project camp.

Ah okay in the project okay. Can you describe your condition?
Yeah… I’m living good yeah, like managing good.

Okay.
Managing good.

Who do you live with?
I live with my following stranieri (foreign).

Okay.
With my operators.

Okay. How do you spend your time here?
I spent my time before when I arrived newly I was going to school.

Okay.
To learn the language. Then I do some calls to find the work, you know. Yeah.

Okay. Do you work?
No, in this moment no I am not working.

Okay. What are some of the things that bring you joy?
When… There are things that bring me joy sometimes. When I’m in a good mood I feel like I’m having joy.

Okay, how has life been since you arrived in in Europe?
Well… I can say life is good when I’m in Europe, and life is bad again when I’m in Europe because it’s not easy. When you’ve been in Europe there are a lot of things you face. You can see here now it’s okay because you escaped from your country because you have your problem, but when you came here again you meet a lot of problems here.

Okay, eh so can you tell me what’s been good about being here?
Yeah, because what makes me… Like I feel like I‘m safety here.

Okay.
I like the safety.

Okay. What been here… eh what is difficult to being here?
Yeah, it’s difficult to being here in Europe. I see like in Europe you need to have a job, that’s one. You need to have a document then you start your family. So without those things it’s difficult to stay here.

Okay. Could you describe how living here has made you feel? How do you feel living here?
Yeah, I’m feeling like… Sometimes I feel disappointed; sometimes I’m feeling like I’m not disappointed because when you live without your family, you came in a new environment where things are new for you it’s not easy, but that’s the journey of life.

Okay. How does being away from your rest of your family make you feel?
That’s the most that’s the most painful things in life, when you stay without your family. Because there is nobody in the world who wants to stay without his family. Well there are some instances that make you… You need to run away from your family because I leave my family for my life.If I could stay with my family, by now my life should have finished.

Okay. How does the feeling of not belonging, discrimination, stigma, impact you?
Yeah, really it’s not good because these kind of things are happening in the whole world, not only here – in the whole world it happens. It’s not really good, it’s not good. You can’t feel good because there are thi- it’s a thing you can’t feel good, you need to be appreciated.

Okay, eh could you even have imagined that you will have been able to handle this situation?
No I’m no- I was not thinking about this, but life sometimes in the stage when you be in the stage then you know how you handle things.

Okay. How have you been able to overcome, survive with it or live with all those eh problems, challenge?
Yeah because like I’m telling you, there’s a lot of challenges in life when I’m here in Europe because I face challenges that I never faced in my life. But sometimes I feel like they make me strong, to make me feel like who I am.

Okay. Do you think that you developed the ability to deal with those challenges?
Yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah. I believe, and I know I will conquer them just in a tough time.

Can you describe for me what kind of strengths you do you develop?
Well, it’s very very very very… If I said can describe for you, it will take a lot of time, you know? But it’s very very very…

Okay. How how has Covid affected you in terms of daily life and your mood (feelings/emotional and wellbeing)
Yeah, Covid… Like I can say Covid this stopped not only me this stopped the whole world because everybody’s facing Covid, you know? But I can say it stopped me because now my status I’m a refugee. I stay in the projects where we are many, so if this Covid is not finished my life is still in danger because I don’t stay alone, I stay with people. And according to the Covid, you need to avoid distance you know, so like I feel like I’m I’m in more danger within this Covid.

Okay. Okay, now we are going to talk about your past. Why did you leave your country?
I leave my country because of a lot of things. The most important is about my life – that’s why I leave my country.

Okay, can you describe what happened?
Then… I’m sorry, I can’t describe what… I leave my country for safety.

Okay, eh how do you feel when eh how did it that make you feel at the time? If you don’t eh want… Can you tell about your about your feeling where eh you leave your coun- country?
Yeah, I can say leaving my country is one of the most painful things in life because I was born there, grew up there, have friends there, my family, everybody is there, they’re living there.It’s very painful. Then there are things that make me to leave more because I see all- those people there I love them, I love being with them, I love being in my country, but maybe if I was in my country right now, I should have been gone.

Okay, how was the journey to Europe? How how was the journey to Europe?
The journey to Europe is not easyreally, I can’t lie to you because it’s not easy. I didn’t come to Europe by flight, I came through by by road from one country to one country, so it’s not easy.

Okay. Is there an eh an experience that was particularly difficult that for you could tell us about?
Yeah, I have a lot of experience by this way I travel to be in Europe. Because it’s not easy, I see a lot of people lose their life through the journey. Some of my friends we met on the road, I see them die by my hands.Like when I am thinking about these things, it makes me like… There are a lot of things. Really, being in Europe with this kind of journey, it’s really it’s very hard.

Okay, do you think about those events often?
Yeah yeah yeah, I’m thinking about them. Every time I’m thinking about them.

Is there something in particular that you think about?
Yeah I have a lot of things like I’m thinking about. Every day, almost half the time. Even I’m trying, I’m forcing, I don’t want to think about it, but my mind is every day, yeah.

Eh, what do you feel when you think about it?
I’m feeling I’m feeling disappointed, I’m feeling sad.

Okay. Does the situation you faced affect you today? Does the situation you faced faced affect you today?
Does the situation you faced affect you today? Yeah, yeah yeah it affects me it affects me loads.

How?
Well, it affects me, it affects me. If I say it, like I can say it, if I explain, it will take a lot of time, you know? It affects me really.

Okay, could you ever have imagined that you could have been able to handle that situation?
No, I was not… I was not thinking about this because when you’re thinking about something, then you know you can handle the situation. But I was not thinking my life will have like the way I am because in my country, when I am in Europe, I live a good life then I have a problem. When I have a problem there are situations ready to find the situations.

Okay.
But I’m thinking I’m trying my best. I’m not perfect, but I’m still trying up till now.

How were you able to survive and get through it? Have you created any kind of strategy? How were you able to survive it?
Yeah… Like, I can say, just patience and… let some things- let them go because if I said I’m thinking about things that affect my life by now I’ve been in another mood, another situation because I’m fighting it very hard to forget about this situation.

Okay. Where do you find strength and support? Where do you find strength and support?
Well… Where did I find strength and support? For this moment, I can say the strength depends on me because there is nobody now who is encouraging me. I encourage myself. And support, I think everything depends on me.

Okay, eh… Before the event that led you eh you to flee home occurred, what was your dream? Before the event that led you to flee home occurred, what was your dream?
Yeah my dream, I was dreaming like a young boy who who grew up in the world like… I want to become somebody in society, I want to help peoples, I want to be educated, have a good job, have my own family, help my peoples around me.So I have a big dream.

Okay, and when when you were leaving your home, what was your dream for the future?
Yeah, because when I leave my home because I was thinking, ‘This is the time now, I need to leave my home’. Then I leave my home, I find myself in another eh eh eh eh eh eh position, now I’m here in Europe, so now my dream, my dream is here. I’m thinking about how can I stay? How can I make up my life here in the future? Ok

ay. Eh… Before leaving your home countr-eh before leaving your home country, what would you describe as your strength?
Well… Before I leave my country, because like I said I have something in my country that makes me to move. Without that now, I should have gone; I should have died. So I was having this thing like to be escaping, to find a rescue place where I can be safety.

Okay.
So I was looking for the ways, the means to become safety.

Have you maintained those those strengths? Have have you maintained those?
Yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah I maintained them because since I’ve been in Europe I can say now I’m I’ve had… I’m going four years and I never have any problems, I never have a police crime, I never have a fight, so like I’m maintaining my decisions.

Do you think you grew in any way as a result of this uh of this experience? Do you? Do you feel like you have grown in any way as a result of uh this experience?
Yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah. In life, any stage you gain experience, you know? There are a lot of experiences I have, a lot of experiences I can tell. A lot, I have a lot.

Okay, what are your hopes and dreams for the future now?
Now, my hope… I’m just praying for this Covid-19 to be finished. That… I’m looking for the government to help me to have documents, because when you have documents your mind will be at rest. And… empower myself, having a good job, and trying to learn something that is marketable in Europe here. Like in Italy something that can help me, I can still learn. I can take care of my future and my life.

Okay, we really eh we really appreciate you answering our those questions. Is there anything you have eh… you’d like to add that may help people in Europe better understand the life of refugees here?
Yeah, like I can say the life of refugees… Like I can speak more on my own. I don’t know about other people, but it’s not easy really to be a refugee. To be a refugee is a problem, it’s very very hard, and sorry, we are sorry for people.You know? But, yeah. We are very sorry.

So eh, is is it hard?
Yeah, like to be a refugee I’m telling you is not easy leaving your home, leaving your family, starting in a new environment. You must face a lot of things on your way, so like to be a refugee I have a lot of things to say, and it’s not a crime to be a refugee. Sometimes life happens like that, and I’m proud to be a refugee.

Okay, thank you.
Yeah, you’re welcome

Many 1000 Dreams interviews were not conducted in english. Their translation has not always been performed by professional translators. Despite great efforts to ensure accuracy, there may be errors.