About Refugees, By Refugees

Portrait of refugee Daniel wearing a red mask, shades and a bandana holding a fist and the other hand holding it

Daniel Maross

Pictures taken in:



Photo and interview by:


Democratic Republic of the Congo


Mahmoud Jabbie (AMJ)

“I am dreaming of a better life because the life there is never better,” says Daniel Maross (26), a refugee from Kinshasa, Congo, about his hopes for his home country. Now living in a refugee camp in Greece, Daniel left home due to his political opinions clashing with the government. He is glad to be safe, but says he feels “like a prisoner” in the camp. Nonetheless, he tries “to do my best to be strong because I don’t want to let this situation to destroy me.” He finds strength in his religion, saying that “when I get to pray, it’s very important to me because I feel like the God is watching me.” And he is motivated by talking to his son: “There is someone who is living with me but inside my heart, not physically, but inside me… There is someone who push me to go to the future.” Daniel dreams of continuing his study of law, and “to be more clever, like before, to get more experience and to go back to the country and to fix a lot of something. Maybe I can be president.”

Trigger Warning:

full interview

Hello, how are you?
I am fine thank you.

Who are you?
I am Daniel Maross.

Where are you come from?
I am come from the Congo.

Nice meeting you.
Thank you.

What kind of housing do you live? Where do you live?
Right now?

I am living in Gosport in Greece.

Which town? The name of the Island?
The island’s name is Leros.

Leros, okay. So are you living in a camp or in a house?
I’m living in the camp.

In the refugee camp?
Yes in the refugee camp.

So what? So please describe the conditions in the camp.
Yeah, I can say the condition in the camp is not easy because there is a lot of something. Well, there’s not a lot of something. We’re not stable, that it’s very difficult because the condition is difficult in the camp.

Like how does that make you feel? Like when life in the camp is not good, you don’t have a good place to sleep, you don’t have the good food like all these things, like, how does that make you feel?
All of these make me feel bad, because like you say the food, the first is the food because I care about my health before this difficult. But we have to do that because we don’t have money to get food. And yes, and it’s very hard. We do like we can.

If you get sick, like, what can you do?
If I get sick?

Do you have the access to medical?
Yes, I have access to medical but it’s difficult because some time they don’t believe us.They need to give them proof. If you don’t have proof, they will not accept you.

Okay, that like you said you are sick. Just planning to see you are sick, but you are not sick, they need the proof.
They need the proof.

Like what kind of proof do they usually ask for? Yeah, to prove to them that you are sick?
To prove to them? Maybe you have to fallen down. Maybe you didn’t fell down because you are really fell down. But you do it because you need, you have to do it because if you didn’t they would not accept you.

Yeah, like even me the last time I was sick, I went to the place, I told them, I’m sick and they said, No you are lying, you are okay. You just want us to [inaudible 4:20] what we are trying to talk about. So how does this make you feel because really when you get sick, they want to have to take care of you, don’t trust you. So how does this make you feel?
It make me feel bad. Some time I think that they are racist because if sometime I go to the hospital and I see the Greek people because I am in Greece, the Greek people when they come and they take them directly. But if you are refugees, you have some difficult to them too.

That is discrimination. So in the camp now, who do you live with? Do you have a wife and kids?
No, I’m single. But I am living with a lot of guys because of the caravan is not for myself.

So how do you spend your day here in the camp?
Some time I am inside my room, there is nothing to do. There is not a job. There is not activity, so that I stay. I spend my time inside. I tried to read the book like this. Nothing to. No activity.

So how does this make you feel?
I feel just very bad because we are human. We can’t stay like this for a long time because you can to last a lot of things that you get.

So how long have you spent in this camp?
Actually, I spend one years and three months. Like 15 months.

So sorry about that. So like, how does this make you fee?l You have spent in this camp one year and three months. So how does this make you feel?
This make me feel — but some time I am feel strong because it’s look like this situation make me strong in my life to see that there is a lot of reality. And we have to be  strong because if you leave yourself, you can get a lot of trauma, that you have to be strong. I am doing my best to be strong and to not focus about the bad things. I do — I look like I can.

Yes, I know because you are very strong. Very strong. So like, what things that bring you joy? What things you do that bring you joy?
Nothing special. But some time.

You play with your phone?
I play with my phone, I play the game, I like the game because there is just a game that I have here. It’s like my friend. It’s like my girlfriend. If I have nothing to do, I play my game to spend the time.

So how has life been since you arrived in Europe? How has life been going since you arrived in Europe?
To my?

No, since you came here.
The first day here?

No, up till now, like, how life is going?

Life is good or stressful?
There is a lot of stress, it’s very stressful because we are close. We are closing, like in a prison. If you can just see around you will see like, this is a prison, there is a.

A barbed wire.
Yes like to the prisons that they need us to understand that we are in the prison and we have to do the best to get out.

Half time to come inside and half time to go outside.
Yes, and if they close the door you stay just inside, you have nothing to do.

So how does this make you feel?
This feeling killing me, very bad. Some time I lost the word to explain it.

To describe it?
To describe it, yes like this.

So like, what have been good about being here for you?
What is good?

What is the good thing about being here for you?
The good things to be here. Here I don’t have the problem you show me because.

Here you are safe zone.
Yes, I am in the safe zone. No one can to reach me here like this.

I am happy for this. So like what is being very hateful for you like, to be here?
The things who is hard is it’s difficult to get out. For example, you have — you must to be free. You must to be free. You rich the Europe and because a you run a lot of country to your country and just become, you feel like you are again to the prison and they have to live, how’s work to be free, to travel, go to visit something, some time we have [inaudible 11:19] but the [inaudible 11:20] it’s closed. For example, I spent 15 months here, but I cannot go anywhere. It really look like a prison. You can’t go anywhere, you have to stay there.

In the island?
Yes, and waiting about your decision.

So how does this make you feel?
The same, really bad.

So you cannot find a word for it?
There is nothing, yes.

It makes you feel really bad.
Yes, but I tried to do my best to be strong because I don’t want to let this situation to destroy me.

Can you describe how living been here has made you feel? Can you describe how living here has made you feel to live in this camp has made feel? Can you talk the way this town has made you feel like some people like, when they live, how they feel good. So people feel like, how like, the experience, you understand? Can you describe like, can you talk about the way living here has make you feel?
Yeah, but the way here, it make me feel like a prisoner. We have nothing to do because we are showing the processes. We are following the process so that we have just two full days and to pray a lot.

So, how has it been away from the rest of your family? How does it feel being away from the rest of your family? Back home has made you feel? Like, now you are not with your mother, you are not with your father, you are not with your sisters. How does that makes you feel now? Do you miss them?
No, I don’t miss them because some time I don’t want to talk with them because, for example, if you talk with your family, you have to tell them the good things that they need to listen. But here there is just bad things. So that’s why I don’t want to tell them the real story that I live here.

So like, I understand. How does the feeling of not belonging, discrimination, has impacted you because you were trying to say, like now, if you get sick you need proof, or for like the Greek people they say they are sick they just reach them. So how does that make you feel? Discrimination like, where they are discriminating people. Like you said, like now if you get sick you have to show them proof. When you go and see the Greek people, like when they go they are sick and even if they not show them proof, they just see them but you need proof. So like, how does that makes you feel?
I feel like I am animal. I feel like I am a animal because even then when they come and just get into the hospital and you come and you stay out. But you are maybe, you are more sick more than them. That I feel that I am not in here.

So you feel less?
Less. Like no one can see me.

I imagine that you will have been able to argue all these things. Could you ever imagine if you would be able to handle all these things you have been through? The things you have been through?

Like from back home, since here, could you ever imagine you would be able to handle them?
No I didn’t because I was thinking about my future and another life. Not this life. Just I come here and I find this life, that why I have to take the life that I see.

You accept the life now?
I accept the life. Yes, I accept life that I meet.

So how have you been able to move back home all this things? How have you been able to survive or live with all these things? Like this bad things, this things you have been through? How are you able to survive it? Because it is very hot, when you see yourself in this, black, white, Arabs they seem right. You tell me that you feel the way the behave to you make you feel less. So like, how are you able to survive all these things? How do you survive it? How do you blend in? You know it’s very hot, like, it’s so pain like for you to see yourself as lesser man is. And now, how do you have the way to fight it and you don’t have a voice? So how do you able to survive that pain?
I try to finish runs, to do my best. Because if I let myself inside of this, of the pain, I can’t be fall. I can fall down.

So you don’t want to fall down?
I don’t want fall down. I want to do my best and to be strong, to do my best to reach the good things that — to reach my dreams.

So, like what was your strength back home? What keeps you alive? What motivates you?
What motivates?

Motivated you, like to fight more, your strength?
I think that what motivates me, it’s my son because I have a son and every time I speak with him, I thinking about him and just when I speak with him he motivates me even more. HIs voice, just when I listen, his voice, I feel strong. Just like I am not myself. I am not alone. There is someone who is living with me but inside my heart, not physically, but inside me, yeah. There is someone who push me to go to the future.

So what is your strength now?
My most?

Yeah, what keeps you to move now?
To move?

Like all this things seems like it’s very hard to think about them, to talk about them. Like to be part of it but you are still  — what pushes you now to move more? Your strength? Motivation? What motivated you to like, live your life?
I am looking for the word.

Say it in French.
Yeah but do you speak French?

No but I can ask what it means.
I can speak French now?

No, you cannot speak French now, I think you want to call a word, that is very hard for you. That is why I say you can call it in French  and I can use my phone to.
Ask the question again.

What is your strength now? What keeps you alive? What keeps you motivated?
Sorry because the last question is very difficult.

I mean, what is your strength now? Presently?
My strength now presently it’s because, first of all I am Christian and I pray a lot and I believed my God. And when I get to pray, it’s very important to me because I feel like the God is watching me. It tried to do something but I didn’t see the thing, but I feel like you do something inside of me to make me stand up, yes.

To lift you up?
Yes, to lift me up.

That’s good. So, like how did Covid affect you, your life and your mood. How did it affect you?

How it’s affected you?
The corona, I don’t have corona.

It’s not that. Like your mood in the lockdown, all this stuff, the stigma, you see?
Yeah. It was trouble because when the corona come, they was closing the camp to don’t let us to get out because they was saying like,  If we have got corona and if we get out, we going to give that to the Greek people and to their tourists. Who’s gone? That some time if you will need to go to the city or get out, you have to ask permission. And if they don’t give you the permission, just you will stay inside.

How does that make you feel?
Like they lock me inside, like they lock me in the prison and this feeling just, it’s very bad because no one wants to be locking. We all want to be free because we are human. It’s important for the human person through, to be free like, to get out when you want, to travel when you want, to do the best for you. But there there is a line here and we can’t reach the line.

Okay. Why do you leave your country?
I leave my country because the political conflict, but my conflict, I was — I am a fighter too. I am a fighter and I work with like I am — the guy who needed freedom, because of revolution and the government don’t need that. They need that to do like they want. And they need to peoples to do something. And if you do something, they were reach you and to try to kill you. That why I was do my best to change it, to change it, to make them like — to try to kick out them. But one day they reach me and they was understanding that I am inside this people who need freedom that why they were going to kill me and I run.

Can you describe what happened?
I left because they reach my home and they sent peoples, like criminal to kill me. But they didn’t reach me physically because I was get the way to run. That’s why I ran in there and leave the country. Because if I was staying there, they will reach me and they just to finish with me.

How does that make you feel at that time?
I feel it because first of all I like my country and I like — I need a changement of my country. But I can’t because the government’s power and if they say you have to show, you have to show the things that they say, it will ensure they will just try to alienate you.

Like you have to do the things they say.
Yes you have do because if we didn’t, they will come after you. They will reach you because they are powerful,  they have money. It’s a government.

How was the journey into Europe? How did you came to Europe?
I come to Europe by plane.

From Congo?
From Congo to Turkish and Turkish Greece.

Then experience that you want to talk about?

So how did that make you feel when you left? How did it feel of to see the change and you fought for that change and like, you fought, but you don’t see the change. And now you want to live here because of your life. But if you don’t leave there you lose your life? And now you are free, so how does that make you feel?
This make me feel like a loser. Like I lost something that’s worth doing unless something not because I was wrong, but because there is government who need my age. But inside of me I give the way to fight more and after that to go back to my country and to try to change some of them.

You always think about these things?
If I have?

Always think about this?
No, no, no.

You don’t think about it? Like when there are things you want to talk about?

In particular [pause] okay, how does the [inaudible 30.31] affect you today? Like, how does it affect you today? [Crosstalk] for your country and you come here and things are not okay. How does it affect you?
It make me look like handicap, like I can’t do anything.

This is not towards my dreams. Just that I think they take my dreams and they destroy it.

What was your dream back home?
What was my dream?

What was you dreaming to be?
The future?

Yes, the future.
First of all I am a lawyer and I was studying to be a lawyer. To fight back my country by the name of my country. Today I’m a lawyer, I get certificate and just I lack something because I run, but my plan, my second plan is to make — to study more, to replace that I have and to get more experience to go back and to fight again. And to reach my dreams that I was dreaming before.

What’s your dream for Congo?
My dreams of Congo?

Your dream for Congo. Like, the place you love so much. What was your dream for them? Like, what are you dreaming for them, like a change, a better life?
I am dreaming of a better life because the life there is never better. Why? Why [inaudible 32.54] the government take the whistles of the country and they sell it to the accidents people’s and to another country. That’s why the peoples of my country didn’t take this resource for them because this resource it’s a button for my country, like, that’s meant for me, but we can’t use it, we can’t to take it, we can’t to work with it. But there is an another guy’s move from another country who come to take this resource and they built this country or to build the country that they think.

So, how does this make you feel?
This make me feel like [pause]. I feel like now my country is just fell down.

Your country’s just fell down?
It fall down. The people of my country fall down.

Your country’s just fell down, in the mind of the people it fall down?
Because this is not that we was thinking about the country. This meant that was thinking the future of the country was taking the best of the country with the best.

Like, you was thinking for the best.
The best.

So, if this was not the dream of the Congo.
Yes it was not the dream. The dreams of Congo and they destroyed it and the people they destroyed the mind of the people’s and a lot of hearts, and now there is a lot of conflict. They army conflict because of the resource, because it’s the resource who make a war in my country, because we don’t need them to come to take it and they are very strong. They have guns and they have lots of things just to take it. And if you didn’t they would just freak out you, take your life and take it, easy.

So, you are trying to say like, we want to take it by force.
They want to take it by force, yes.

So who want to take it by force, like I want to know the people, the Westerners or the government?
The oxidants, the government is dealing with the occidents peoples.

Who is the Occidents people?
The Europe, the USA.

The Westerners?
Yes, there is a factory from Europe to my country, whose take resource, there is a factory of the USA and China’s all of the big countries.

So they fight against the Congo.
Yes but they don’t really fight like this, but they give guns to the government.

Fight so hot, against the government.
Against the government, they give them the guns and the government lets them to take the resource.

Okay, like it was.
And when they give us the guns, for us to fight with each other.

Give you guns to fight each other.
And for them to come to take the resource, yes.

Okay, I understand. Like, you was trying to say the mind of the people is locked down a lot, like, you use the word a lot, the mind of the people is, like, I think you are trying to say, it’s closed. So, how does the mind of the people close?
The minds close because this resource that we have who make a army conflict when they give the government a gun, the government give the gun to the peoples like, the bad peoples, like criminals to killing each other. And inside of this there is a guy who writes the wife of the [crosstalk] guys and they killed the guy’s, they killing guys. They burn them and they do a lot of something but.

Okay, you are trying to say, like they do a lot of bad things. They be naughty, all these bad stuffs.

Criminality, so like most of the people, like, yeah, most of them don’t have a dream again?
Yes, most of them don’t have a dream again because they just destroy it.

Destroy it.
Destroy their dreams.

So most of them don’t have a dream again, except, like, to engage the [inaudible 39.01] themselves the bad things. Like raping, looting, fighting, all these things. What you have been through is very bad, it’s very bad.  So, do you feel like you have grown in any way as a result of the things you have been through?
I don’t understand.

No, like the experience you have.
Tried to make me understand please?

I know you have been through a lot of bad things and you feel like you have grown in any way as maybe, a result of the things you have been through?
[Pause] yeah, can you rephrase the question?

You have been through a very hard time.
Pace away the question? Can you ask another question?

What is your dream now in Europe?
My dream now in Europe is to get more study. But myself, like I told you, I am a lawyer. I started — I will study about the lawyer and get certificates to fight for my country. Now I am here, my dream is to get more study again, and to be more clever, like before, to get more experience and to go back to the country and to fix a lot of something. Maybe I can be president.

I appreciate you answering all these things. Is there any other thing you would like to add? Might help the people in the entire Europe, like, to have a better understanding of life of refugee here?
Can you ask again please?

Like, do you have any other things that you like to talk about, like for the entire Europe like they will get a better [inaudible] like for a good understanding, like to change the way they feel about the refugees?
So they have to change a lots of things about the refugees because even on the documents, the life that we are living is not the same on the documents that we will study about refugees. A lot of things is fake, a lot fo things are just fake. When you arrive here that you will see this affect things. Because before you need to come here I was thinking that the life here is better. Even in the camp or out the camp you think that life is better but when we are live here you see that all of this, all the things that they write on the documentaries is fake. It gives more pain.

So, if you have the chance now to ask for help, what will you ask for?
I will ask for, not for myself, but for all the refugees because I am now, I am today a refugee. I will ask for all the refugees, I will ask for the governments who would get refugees to try to fix lots of something. Who’s in the bad way to fix it and to try to solve it. And these things will make us to don’t get more stress, to help refugees.

In a good way [crosstalk].
Like this, and there is a lot of something again. If we are taking apart all of this, maybe we can take one years to talk about all these things.

Because you want them to fix first.
Yes, maybe just it’s my scene but there is another refugees who have their dreams to end. They have seen the judgement. There is a lot of something’s.

Okay, I understand. There is a lot of  things that they are going to fix because you have the things you want them to fix and other people have their cities.
Yes, it’s very big.

Thank you very much.

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.