About Refugees, By Refugees

Portrait of refugee Evrard wearing a pink shirt standing sideways and hiding his face with his hand

Evrard Nahimana

Pictures taken in:



Photo and interview by:

Bosnia and Herzegovina



Radjabu Habonimana

“I aspire to change. I don’t want remain the same person I was in Burundi; I want to be someone new,” says Evrard Nahimana (pseud, 17), currently living in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina. He left Burundi for Europe primarily due to “not good life conditions,” but also explains that he left “as quick as possible because ethnicity was something remarkable in our living hood. We were Hutu and the surrounding neighborhood was made of the Tutsi families.” He describes militias who made him “not feel safe whenever moving around.” Although Evrard says he “went through many challenges, to be able to stand here” and “does not feel great” being far from home, he is motivated to work hard “to reach a good lifestyle, to be able to help my family.” He says the challenges of his journey have made him “understand that there is no shortcut for a worthy life, facing challenges is a must when striving for a good life.” Despite the hardships, he believes “bright days come after living dark moments.”

Trigger Warning: Discrimination (ethnicity)

full interview

All right, you came from Burundi to here looking for a way to create a great life. Was making a great life the only motive or?
Creating a good life, yes. Actually, it is about my life, my own life. I mean, there is current life and future life.

Uhm, and you talked about ethnicity, repeat that, please.
Yes. Talking about current life, I left the area I was living in as quick as possible because ethnicity was something remarkable in our living hood. We were Hutu and the surrounding neighborhood was made of the Tutsi families. Beside that, militias IMBONERAKURE were active out there too, mistreating people, perceiving us in a negative way, such things. Therefore, you could not feel safe whenever moving around.

Yes. What message do you have for people who mistreat and disrespect their fellow human beings because they don’t belong to the same ethnic group or political party?
To all people with such wrong habit, we should know that we all are humans regardless of our ethnic groups and political parties. We all have been created by God, we all are humans. The best thing to do is loving each other, helping each other. Just doing good things.

All right. If all those problems end, would you go back to your country?
Yes. If all those problems end and there is peace again there, I can absolutely go back home, because it is our country.

Uhm, okay. All right, can you introduce yourself?
Yes. My name is Evrard Nahimana. Uhm and I completed my studies.

Secondary school or college?
Secondary school.

Ah, umm, where did you do and finish your studies?
In the area called Ngagara, Ward 7 at Mungano.

Ah, umm, Evrard, do you have both parents?
No, I have one parent.

Father or mother?

How many siblings do you have?
We are three siblings.

How did you come up with the idea of coming to Europe?
Uhm, the idea to come here was born from the fact that I had to move to earn life. I wanted to come to build my life.

You knew you was coming to work here?
Yes, I knew I was coming to work here because in Burundi, there are many students, many graduates, and employment is terribly low out there.

Did it take you financial means to come here or you came by legs?
Uhm, it required financial resources, but my family was supportive. I gathered my family members and told them about my idea. They helped me with the money I needed to be able to arrive here.

What challenges did you encounter along the way coming here? Did you face any challenges working to reach here?
Uhm, yes. I went through many challenges, to be able to stand here. I really have been through a lot. Yes. But in the place I was before here, there were no many challenges.

Uhm. Where was that?
In Serbia.

Uhm, did you come by plane to Serbia?
Yes, I came by plane to Serbia. Once at airport out there, they denied us to enter the country, they made us documents ordering us to return back. In my minds, we thought we would cross with any interruptions. We had to apply for asylum in order to be allowed to enter the country.

What was the main reason for you to leave Burundi?
Uhm, the reason for me to leave Burundi was that there are not good life conditions, I came here to make some earnings.

So, after leaving Burundi and facing all those issues on the way till here, did you learn any important lessons from that?
Yes, I got a lesson from it. It made me strong. It taught me to think appropriately, to understand that there is no shortcut for a worthy life, facing challenges is a must when striving for a good life.


What were your dreams the time you were still in Burundi?
The time I was in Burundi, my dream was to become someone powerful.

When you finished your secondary school studies, didn’t you get someone to help you continue studies?
It was not the lack of someone to finance my studies, there were people ready to do so. The problem was that I could continue with college just to find myself among many other graduates with no jobs, at the end. That is the reason why I left that place.

Euh, before, did I ask you about the dreams you had before when you were still in Burundi?
Yes, you asked me about that.

Ok. So, once here, what was your dream?
Since I managed to reach here, I aspire to change. I don’t want remain the same person I was in Burundi; I want to be someone new, yeah.

Therefore, ah, now that you are here in Europe, given that most of the youths think that once they come here, their lives will turn as better as they wish, is there something you expect from life here?
Uhm, I am confident towards a good life. But the reality is that life comes from God, and it is God who plans everything about someone’s life. However, one must put on efforts as well.

The time you left your family, euh, here I am talking about your family, not your country, I mean I can ask you about the time you left your family on one side, and about the time you left your country on the other side, let’s start with your country. [Interviewee interrupts.]

What was your dream the time you left your country?
The time I left my country, my dream was to become someone powerful.

Uhm, what do you mean by someone powerful?
Listen, I mean to reach a good lifestyle, to be able to help my family.

Ok, and, ah, the time you left your family?
Uhm, and the time I left my family, I wanted to be able to help my family, depending on how my life will turn in the future.

And, ah, another question, another question, ah, does it happen to think about things that happened to you? Or, what happens when you think about it?
Ah, what happened to me when I arrived here, or?

Here. Challenges you encountered when you were already here.
Yes, I do think about it a lot. When it happens to think about it a lot, I do realize that they are challenges one must face in life journey. Those problems are inevitable in everyday life.

Uhm, did they impact your life?
Yes, they did and they are still changing my mental make-up. They are making me mentally tough.

[People in the background speaking English.]

And now, can you tell us about your life in Europe?
The way I see life here, it is different from what it was before. Life is good here.

Uhumm! What has been good to you? What has been bad to you?
Ah, what has been good is that people from here are wonderful, and we eat well.

What do you think about being far from your family?
Uhm, the way I feel, I don’t feel great, but again, we came to work to make our lives better, and I believe I will meet my family again.

Had you ever thought before that you could possibly live this kind of life?
No, no.

Okay. And do you believe that you will be strong enough to overcome difficulties you are encountering?
Absolutely. I believe the storm will be over, God will take care of it. All problems will end.

And do you have any message for Europeans, so that they understand refugees’ living conditions?
Yes. Ah, what I can tell Europeans is whenever they see refugees, basically, they come here trying to find something to do with their lives. They leave their homes because of different and various life issues. What I am requesting them (Europeans) is to treat them well and help them achieve their dreams, their desires.

Ok, I think that we are towards the end of our session.

I believe I have asked everything; I don’t know if there is something you would want to add.
Uhm, I have nothing to add.

On things we discussed, in case of something I may have forgotten to ask you…
Eh, you really asked everything.

By the way, did I ask about your siblings? How many they are? Are you the first or last born?
Uhm, yes you did. You asked me that and I responded that we are 3 siblings and I am the first born.

Ok. Is your mother still living or she passed away?
Our mother passed away.

Only your father is living?
Yes, our father is the only living parent.

Did he marry another woman?
Yes, he did.

Does she treat you well?
You know the way step-mothers are generally, she does not you as her child, but you get aware and conscious of it and just go with the flow.

And did you learn something from challenges you have been through, that is helping you now in your life?
Yes. Challenges are showing the eventual image of my future life. It does not mean that problems will last forever. They come and go, and bright days come after living dark moments.


So, thank you.
Yes, thank you as well.

All right.

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.