About Refugees, By Refugees
Pictures taken in:
Photo and interview by:
Bosnia and Herzegovina
“Our dream was to have a peaceful life, to have peace,” says Ehsan Gholami (pseud, 37), who arrived in Europe with his family in 2018. He fled Afghanistan with “the feeling that we’re going to a better place. They would consider us as humans, would see humane behavior.” The journey was difficult; Ehsan recalls “not having money, discrimination, and inhuman behavior of the police of some countries.” They also faced “lack of water and food. The feeling that the country that you entered despises you.” The experience left him “feeling suicidal.” As he explains, “It impacts everything.” But it was through “hope for a better and brighter future, the hope of reaching our wishes, and hope for my children to do something” that he was able to continue, alongside his tolerance and trust in God. For now, Ehsan and his family live in a camp in Sarajevo, where he dreams “just for our children to reach somewhere, so they would do positive things not just in our country but the society in general.”
Trigger Warning: Suicide; discrimination
Mr. Ehsan dear… Mr. Ehsan dear, I’m here on behalf of the 1000 dreams project with a few interview questions. Currently, what type of accommodation do you live in?
For now, in the Bosnia camp.
Could you explain the conditions?
Condition… small room, very bad food, as in the cooking section. The hygienic services are really dirty, some don’t have a water hose, don’t have a shower, the tap is broken, and the bathrooms are dirty. People are together from different nationalities; different cultures are together and most cultures are incompatible. Such things…
Who are you living with?
With my family.
How do you spend your time here?
Time… at night… nobody seems to sleep. During the day also you have to get up and eat breakfast. After breakfast, you come home and immediately go for lunch. We don’t have time for leisure, nor for touring, or relaxing… Nothing.
Do you also work here?
What is the cause of your happiness?
There’s nothing that causes happiness here just to go and reach our destination… reaching our wishes.
Ever since you entered Europe, how has your life been?
Keeping Europe aside, ever since we left our home or nation… We saw difficulties with our eyes. As the old saying goes, “we felt it with our body”.
What was the benefit of staying here?
Being here… getting to know different nationalities such as Iran, Turkey, and Albania. It didn’t have any other benefit for us.
What was difficult for you?
Not having money, discrimination, and inhuman behavior of the police of some countries. Changing, reaching out for help just for a small bite.
Can you explain how living here has made you feel?
Living in Bosnia??
Yes, in Bosnia or while you were on the way.
The only feeling… The only thing that happened was that it was on the nerves. The feeling of depression. Taking… Now personally, taking tranquilizers.
How do you feel being away from home or family members?
The feeling of depression, loneliness, and not having anyone.
Did you ever imagine coping with this condition?
Honestly, I never thought we would face such a thing.
How were you able to overcome this or live?
Only through hope for a better and brighter future, the hope of reaching our wishes, and hope for my children to do something.
Do you think you have the ability to overcome these challenges or do you think you had strengths or mechanisms to cope with these issues?
Ummm. Ability… Don’t know what to say about that but well I just have the hope for my children to do something and be able to be effective people for society, especially in my country. We have to tolerate these things.
How has Covid-19 affected you in your daily life?
Honestly, we had a lot of problems to deal with that Covid is nothing compared to that.
Thank you, dear brother. I want to ask some questions regarding your past. If you’re willing to answer I would be thankful, if not then I would be thankful nonetheless. Why did you leave the country?
Next question, please.
Can you explain what happened?
How did you feel at that time, when you were leaving your country?
The feeling that we’re going to a better place. They would consider us as humans, would see humane behavior.
How was the journey to Europe?
Did you have any specifically difficult experiences that you can tell us?
The difficulty of the route, the long way, lack of money, lack of water, and lack of food. Times when your child wants something and you can’t get it for him. All these things…
How did you feel at that time?
Do you often think of these incidents that happened?
When we recollect memories with friends, yes.
Is there anything specific that you think about often? From the difficulty of the way or route?
Something specific… the bad behavior of the police, lack of money… as I said… lack of water and food. The feeling that the country that you entered despises you.
How did you feel when you think about them?
The feeling that… I wish I wasn’t there… in this world of… what do I say anyway.
So, you had a very bad feeling?
Has the condition that you faced had an impact on you?
Naturally, on the behavior, on the psyche/mental state, and nerves. It impacts everything.
Yes, you did explain. Have you ever imagined of managing those situations?
Managing… Only by tolerating and patience. With the hope of reaching the destination, to reach the place we like, with the hope of… nothing else that comes to mind.
How were you able to live or move on from those situations?
With our trust, by looking at the family, with our sufferings, whether we are going to have a better life.
Did you have any strategy or mechanism to overcome the difficult days and memories?
Where did you get the strength and support?
From where… First of all, from God… Then, since we are Muslim, we trust the things that our religion says, the beliefs that we have of specific people, especially since we are Shia… Trust in God. These things.
What was your dream before the incident that led to you running away from your country?
Our dream was to have a peaceful life, to have peace.
When you were leaving your home, what hopes or dreams did you have now for the future?
To reach the dreams that we had in our own country and achieve them.
Before leaving your country, what did you describe as your strength/strong point?
Honestly, the only strength we had in this difficult route was to be tolerant. Tolerating difficulties.
Have you preserved these?
If so, how?
How… Well, as I said, when a father looks at his family, look at his children, he would get stronger. The fact that we haven’t done or reached anywhere, at least they would.
What you experienced seemed really difficult. Do you feel that these experiences have led to your improvement in any way or resulted in something positive in your life?
Experience… we did find experience. For now, the fact that we reached Bosnia. Coming here was itself an experience. The difficulties we suffered, things we saw, things we touched. Well, this helps us to at least do something so that these incidents don’t occur in the future… or occurs less.
What hopes or dreams do you have now for the future?
Our dreams… I’ll repeat… Just for our children to reach somewhere, so they would do positive things not just in our country but the society in general.
Thank you for your answering the questions. Is there anything you’d like to add so that it helps the European people to understand the life of refugees in Europe?
From Europe… the thing we especially heard was that they have high culture, they have a high understanding, and they’re more human than the people of other countries. I want them to see us as humans, not to see us as an extra weight on their shoulders. It’s true that we come from different countries but maybe some of these people might be useful to Europe.
Thank you, dear brother. I’m grateful for answering the questions.
Thank you, goodbye.
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.