About Refugees, By Refugees
Trigger Warning: Death
Could you introduce yourself?
I am Elena Yaqubee, 19 years old and from Afghanistan.
In what kind of house do you live?
I am now in Greece. After spending one year in the camp, I have come to the city.
Can you describe the place you live?
Hm-uhh… After we received an ID card from the government of Greece, no one came to give us money and stuff, and we found ourselves accommodation. We faced trouble in finding houses because they didn’t give refugees houses easily. And we faced difficulties in finding houses. Ahh … Now we live in a house where we shoulder all the responsibilities and finding jobs is also so difficult.
Whom do you live with?
With my sister and brother.
How do you spend your time here? Do you have a job?
Ahh-ugh… I am really looking for a job. The work that I have done was volunteer activities. I tried to help other refugees and use my micro-skills can help others to speak English. I go to my music class, play the guitar and sing songs.
What are the things that can make you happy?
Some of the things that make me happy are that I could pass all those difficulties to reach here even though I am not very hopeful. However, I am not so happy here I could pass all those difficult ways.
How is your life been since your arrival here in Europe? What are good and bad things?
At first, when I entered the border of Europe, I got so happy, but I didn’t expect to face these kinds of conditions and stay in a camp. It was unpredictable. When I saw the camp conditions and how people live without any facilities, water, food or a place to sleep or a place to live. This was a really bitter experience for me. And ahh-um-ahh my positive experience was this I tried very hard and got citizenship in Greece.
Can you explain how you feel living here?
Life in here ahh-uhh… … has given me a feeling that uhh… everywhere I go, I am considered as a second citizen of that country. Some people in those counties may think they are superior because I was called a refugee wherever I went.
How do feel about being far from your home and family?
It is a bitter feeling. I feel that being far from my family is really hard. It has been five years that we have not been together, and we haven’t seen each other. I feel sorry for my father and mother because we couldn’t see each other during this immigration.
Have you ever thought you can manage this kind of situation? Have you ever thought you can manage this kind of situation?
uhh… when I was in the camp, no, I didn’t think that one day I get citizenship or get a house. However, I could do something for myself step by step. It is good until now.
Do you think you have found/learnt the ability to deal with these problems or had you always had it?
No, I didn’t have the capability. When I began the immigration process I learned to like, in fact, I am not doing well mentally. Because I am far from my family and I still don’t have the ID stamp. It is not clear when I will get my passport or my ID card. So at least, I can go to visit my family and come back here to Greece. I am not so hopeful about these.
What are the effects of COVID-19 on your daily life and emotions?
Uhh… when I heard about COVID-19 for the first time I made fun of it, but then I saw it was infecting all the people of the world and I was terrified. After that, as it came to Greece and infected the people, especially in the camp, I really was terrified. I was so concerned about the refugees and myself because I didn’t know if we were infected by COVID-19, and how we would fight it.
Why did you leave your country? Can you explain what happened?
My country, Afghanistan, was not secure. I felt in danger whenever I went out. I thought I could not get back home safe. Neither my dad, mom or my brother and sister, none of us felt secure. We were threatened and we could not live comfortably.
How did you feel at that time?
I felt like I was in jail. I could not educate myself. I could not go out.
(Could you start with, “I felt like …”)
I felt like I was in a prison and I could not reach my dreams and I could not progress like other people who live in developed countries.
How was your trip to Europe? Were there any tough experiences?
Hmm… One of the bitter experiences was hmm… when we came from Iran to Turkey in a car that could fit 5 or maybe 10 people, but there were 50 people in. I never forget the rude and harsh behavior of the drivers and the people who live in those areas. I could die because I could not breathe properly. There was a chance of an accident as well. It was really one of the saddest experiences.
How did you feel at that time?
Hmm… feeling of suffocation, hopelessness and death.
What do you think about them? When? Do you think about them at special times?
When I remember those moments, I cannot believe that I am alive now. Sometimes I get awestruck that I was in that kind of situation one day.
When you think about it, what do you feel? … When feeling and remembering those experiences?
That time feeling ugh… that I had was that one person can live so comfortably and one faces a lot of hardships, fighting death to reach that comfortable life.
Does this situation that you face nowadays affect you? How?
Hm… nowadays, hmm… … the situation that I have now is maybe better than the time I was living in my country. Of course, it is better because I feel secure here because I can go out, be free and nobody threatens me. And uhh… also sometimes some thoughts come to me and I am worried about my future because I am a refugee here. I don’t know when I can have an identity here.
Have you ever thought that you could handle this situation?
Didn’t you ask this question?
Ahh… no, I didn’t think I could handle that situation when I was on the way. But when I arrived, I became hopeful.
How could you handle it? How were you supported?
… Support, ahh… There was one motivation in me that I thought I could succeed in one day. Eventually, I reached Greece considering all the difficulties. The little positive thought I had turned into a reality.
Before you migrated here and abandoned your country, what were your dreams?
Ahh let me think a bit… When I was in my country… Ahh… My dreams were these… Would it be possible one day for me to go out without stress and fear and have security? … Can I study and pursue my dreams? I got more expectations before I came here. However, I cannot study here and I am restricted. Ahh… I just follow some of my goals.
And what are your dreams for the future?
My dreams for the future are to help the people like me who are refugees. And I must be able to help them through my art, writing poems and expressing my feelings.