About Refugees, By Refugees
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“I never imagined that I would live outside my country, but when I arrived in the Netherlands, I lived with the circumstances and overcame them,” says Hamid (32). Hamid explains that he left his home country of Syria for two reasons: his sexual orientation and the civil war. The journey to Europe was not easy, entailing “material, physical, and moral exploitation.” But as time goes on, Hamid feels his “mental health is improving and I feel hopeful. I feel that good opportunities are coming for me in this country.” He has acquired a residence permit, and currently lives in a house with his partner and eight others: “When I’m with the person I love, I’m happy, I feel secure and safe.” For the future, he dreams of conditions in Syria improving “for my family and all the innocent people there.” For himself, he dreams of living “a respectable, safe life while providing material and moral support to those in need in my nation. I can relate to them because I experienced the same problems.”
Trigger Warning: Homophobia; war; death
What is your current situation? What is your housing type, and what are your conditions? Who do you live with? How do you spend your time? Do you work?
I have been living in a camp for refugees for the last year and nine months. I share a house with eight other men. When I first came here, I got to know someone and he became my boyfriend. We’ve been in a relationship for over a year now and we live together.
How do you spend your time?
I can’t work right now because, as part of the legal procedures, I participate in some volunteer work, go to the forest, ride bicycles, and do other things for fun.
What are the things that make you happy?
When I’m with the person I love, I’m happy, I feel secure and safe. Also, knowing that my parents are doing well brings me joy and hope.
What was your life like when you arrived in the Netherlands? How do you describe it positively and negatively?
The Netherlands was like a dream to me because it was difficult to get there. When I arrived, I felt a great sense of accomplishment. I had no other choice but to make it. It was a great feeling, and I felt very happy, but the negative circumstances that happened in the whole world, such as the Coronavirus, have delayed us a lot. I have lost one year and nine months without learning or working, but I have hope for a better future.
How do you feel when you are away from your family and home?
At first, it was very difficult, especially when there is a possibility that you will not see your family again. It is still a difficult feeling until now.I am attached to my country’s past but I had no choice. I left my country against my will. The conditions were harsh.If I left voluntarily, it would have been easier for me. I wish the war in Aleppo didn’t happen. I wouldn’t have lost my house and many things. I always try to forget and move on but it is a difficult feeling.
How do you describe the feeling of belonging to the country?
I feel that I belong to the Netherlands because this place offers me a lot, regardless of the negative things that have happened. In fact, I have come to feel that I belong to this country over time because it offers me many opportunities and makes me feel strong again.
Have you ever imagined that you would deal with these conditions, live with them and overcome them?
I never imagined that I would live outside my country, but when I arrived in the Netherlands, I lived with the circumstances and overcame them. I didn’t have a choice anyway, I had to do this.
How has Corona affected the nature of your life and mood?
It has affected me negatively. It wasted lots of my time and made me wait for so long without being able to do anything. I couldn’t move and go out, I was helpless. Living in a camp, our lives have become very routine, so they have had a very negative impact on us.
How do you feel about living in the Netherlands now?
The more time passes, the better I feel.My mental health is improving and I feel hopeful. I feel that good opportunities are coming for me in this country.
Why did you leave your country?
The first reason was my sexual orientation, it caused numerous problems in my home country. It was risky, I used to worry all the time that people would find out about it. War was the second reason. We were forced to leave our house and we had no place to live. We had to stay with some people. Even if it wasn’t for my sexual orientation, I had no choice but to leave.
How did you get to the Netherlands?
From Greece to the Netherlands, I got out of the smuggling with a false document that came out through the airport. It was a difficult path, but nothing compares to my journey from Syria to Turkey and from Turkey to Greece. There was material, physical, and moral exploitation.
Can you imagine being able to cooperate in this situation? Do you think about these events a lot?
I think about these events a lot, I never imagined being exposed to such events, I mean having to leave my country in an illegal way. I think if I go back in time, I would not have the courage to go out this way again. It still affects me deeply. I wish I can forget those terrible memories.
Have you experienced a dangerous situation? How have you survived, and how did you overcome it?
I have endured all the difficult conditions in my country and the dangers of the road because I had no other choice. Many people died in front of me at sea, but despite all my fears, I have survived to die or live a decent life.I think hope and the strong urge to accomplish something in my life gave me the strength to go forward.
What was your dream before the war? What do you feel now?
Despite the circumstances I have encountered, I am getting better. I believe that things will get better, especially once the formalities and paperwork are done.Both a dwelling permit and a home have been acquired by me. After losing hope for a while, this has restored it in my life.
\What is your dream for the future?
I dream of a good life: getting a job that suits me without needing anyone and spending time safely with the person I love.
What were your strengths in the past and did you maintain them?
In the country, my family was one of my strongest assets. In addition to my friends. I used to be so sure that if I go through anything, they will be there for me. They were my source of emotional support. I lost touch with them after leaving Syria and learned to rely more on myself. I did not lose my strength because I got strong on my own.
What is your dream for the future?
I wish the state in Syria gets better for my family and all the innocent people there. I wish to be able to help my family in Syria. My own goal is to lead a respectable, safe life while providing material and moral support to those in need in my nation. I can relate to them because I experienced the same problems.
Thank you for answering the questions. Would you like to add something to help people who seek refuge in Europe again, to help them learn more about the lives of refugees?
Before I arrived in the Netherlands, I used to imagine that life was simpler in the Netherlands, but all things require patience, time, and effort. I hope that all people who come to the Netherlands will not lose hope, no matter what happens.
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.