About Refugees, By Refugees


Pictures taken in:



Photo and interview by:





Hamid (34) dreams that he might, “start the job that I like, and the study that I like.” But living in a refugee camp in Germany for the last five years, awaiting legal status, has meant he hasn’t been allowed to work. Hamid fled his country, he says, due to his political and religious beliefs. His journey to Hamburg took 43 days, during which time he was threatened with a gun by smugglers: “We felt death because we didn’t have any way back. If we want to go back, the criminal would kill us.” The journey haunts Hamid: “Still, I have nightmares about it.” It’s not only his past he’s troubled by. “I came here to make my life, to want to build my life again. But, when a country doesn’t give you any possibility, how can you make it?” Despite challenges, Hamid says, “The positive thing I can believe as a person, is that nothing is impossible, you can do it. You really have to choose your goal… It’s like when you want to see the rainbow, you have to pass the storm and rain.”

Trigger Warning:

full interview

So the, um, first part is about your current situation. First question is what kind of housing do you live in?
I live, uh, since five years in refugees camp, which is just like like a container around like 12 meters, ten meters maximum. And my experience since this time, like, it was just like with two person with three person living in one room is, uh,

Can you describe the conditions of the, uh, room you live?
The room is like the plastic container with really thin, uh, wall in between. And each room is just like separated for like two person. But refugees camp also a little bit different for each other. Like some of them, they have like a little bit bigger container. Some of them they have like little container. But the main point is there’s privacy, that there’s no privacy for anyone. Like, our camp is around, I think 300 people over there and 300 people. And most of them, they live two person in one room, uh, or like a family with children. They have like two rooms. But it’s like they are all together, you know, and there’s nothing no time to someone can just have a little bit private time for them. And there’s like also there’s like have security inside. Some of them, like Sozialarbeitern (social workers) they do  so many things for refugees. But the main thing is, uh, the atmosphere here is really like hard. And no one, like, really feel that he’s living in Germany in this condition. And, yeah, there’s so much depression is around, so much like when you meet someone, they’re like there’s also get them like really unsocial and uncommunicative and or if they communicate with you, it’s not really like what you want exactly. And what you prefer. But yeah, it’s like this.

Who do you live with?
Uh, I lived to be honest with so many but at the moment like since, uh, six month uh like it’s changed because since this five years I was just like three months alone. And after that I since half a year, over than half a year, I have a new roommate. We are two person. We live inside. And he’s also working. And he’s really early tonight. Yeah. And we try to be good to each other because we know that that this room is belong to no one else belong to both of us. And yeah, it’s it’s hard for both of us because every time and you want to go to your to have like little private time or room for yourself, like you don’t have, you know, and you just have to spend time with someone else in your room and that person have to spend his time with you too. And this is like condition right now.

And how do you spend your time here?
Like, how can I explain it? We always we talk a lot to each other about everything. And I like spending the time because I do music probably I don’t have that time to do any music here. First, I have a roommate that he’s not a fan of this music because I do electronic music. And yeah, I have to take care about like how should be loud because as we said, we are two person in one room and most of the time I can’t like really enjoy it and he cannot enjoy it too. And I do like painting, but otherwise when someone is here he do his own stuff too and it’s not really comfortable and it’s better to we talk to each other to spend time together, then we want to do private things, for example, like when I want to meet my girlfriend or he wants to meet a friend or have a guest, we have to talk to each other. Maybe one of us can go to his girlfriend or a family or friends he have around. And like, I spend one night or two night there till he can. I have his guest in this room, you know, and. Both of us, we just deal like this because it is how it is and there is a best solution.

Do you work?
No, like since a long time, like since like five years. I didn’t get any of work permission that why it didn’t work.

What are some of the things that bring you joy in general?
And and, uh, bring me join?

Joy. Like I can enjoy. Just to feel that, um, first first of all, like then like joying or enjoying somewhere that you let someone, like coming, you know, is that to get into the culture and just need to like some possibilities to learn to learn the language. Like, for example, where I live for over than four years, I didn’t get any study permission and I didn’t get any work permission. And, uh, I just try to learn language by my own or the point I can, like, talk in English and I can talk with European people and get like contact with these people and can ask, like, how is it? Because without any study, how can a person can go into the culture? It’s impossible. And the second thing is like to giving, uh, some way and opportunities to who have some talents and some work, because we never had in our refugees camp that just giving a paper that a who can like doing an instrument or who can like doing some art or who have a profession or something, he can come to us, you can introduce him if he wants to continue. There’s no possibility. Like, for example, if you go to a university for hours right now, like, for example, in Germany, they have like a refugees park. So I don’t know what does it mean? It’s just like separating, like putting like change, difference.

How has life been since you arrived in Europe?
First of all, when I arrived because I like my journey was a long journey and when I did, it was very hard, dangerous with suffering, with so much stress. But at the end, like I arrived and my mind was really open and I was full of motivation to yeah, I arrived. Now I have to go forward to, like, learning the language and then going through the everything and find what I want to do. And I knew that, that what I wanted to do, I had like my goal, but I just was ignoring, ignoring, ignoring, ignoring with like, no permission, no permission. You cannot do it. And those things that this took so much motivation and energy from me and like it was really like wasting the life that I’m not sad that I came here because I just escaped from my life because I was in danger. But I came here to, like, make my life, you know, to want to build my life again. But when a country doesn’t give you any possibility, how you can make it? Just means that you swim good. But no one let you to jump into the water to show it like, yeah, I can do it. You know, it’s not just talking.

And, um, what has been good about being here?
First of all, I’m glad of communication and the way that in art and about anything that I got in communication, it was really nice and it’s still really nice. I have so many good, good, good friends that I know that they are like really nice human beings, like since all well and four years, like I’m in communication with people who stand out or something is really give me so much hope, so much positive energy. And also the country which I live is really kind of modern and it’s got like what I want. And I feel so lucky that I’m in the city that whatever I love to do and I’m really into it, I, I have it here, but just I can’t do it like and that’s why it’s like this.

Yeah. And what has been difficult?
Difficult immigration’s difficult for us. We just get a really tiny amount of money that it’s completely not enough for our mouth and and other sides that you cannot like work and like me as a person. And I know hundreds, hundreds, hundreds of refugees, they don’t want this money. They just need some permission to go to work and work and to get their own moneys and to make their own life, you know, and the difficulties was like for us to get this, uh, permission for our futures, you know, because they just needed papers and we didn’t have any papers. And difficulties is like how we can find our way, because when we register with the lawyer, lawyer, just know something and everyone say something different. And when we go to somewhere that we want to get an answer, we don’t really get an answer because I don’t know who would have an idea, because no one have an idea.

Um, some questions are repetitive, but still, I will ask, can you describe how living here has made you feel? What’s your feelings about it?
My feeling like from beginning to end now I feel that I’m an open prison. I feel I feel like Kamba on my side, that I’m also happy that I have a place that I can sleep, you know, and it’s normal that I’m really glad. But why I cannot have my own own place? And this feeling here is is really is really like for me is through depression, because I have no freedom here and I cannot do something here and I cannot be on my own here. And everything is kind of not for me. It’s just from a state is nothing that I rented here. You know, they can kick me out every single minute and I can’t do nothing. They change our rooms without that. I if they said, like, you have to go to the other room, I cannot say I like this room I have to listen to. If I don’t, they will transfer me somewhere else. And the other thing is that there’s always someone here and you cannot, like, really be on your own. And this is like so much depression. There’s no privacy.

Um, how does being away from your family, rest of your family or home make you feel like? It’s like how does not belonging or discrimination also impacts you like being away from your family and being, um, discriminating here? Can you describe?
As me as a person such a long time I had no family but everyone they miss the hometown, by the way, because they bond. They grown up. They feel that they are from there or whatever. But this feeling that that we are also upset that why our country’s got this situation and it’s getting so hard for everyone to live there and so many Islamisation pressure on everyone that no one really can, uh, live there. And the feeling that we have no way back to there and also being here and not really integrating with the culture and not really integrating with something that for real and like the imagination about people and some reaction that we see, like, yeah, I, I received so many good reactions, so many nice behavior. One other side I received so much disturbing. I had a fight with narcis. I had this is like different, you know, and this is like also give me a missing of my country. But as a person I don’t want to go back there.

Could you ever have imagined that you would have been able to handle this situation that you are going through now? And have you been able to survive it like now? You are talking about it. Do you overcome it? Can you survive it?
Like when I’m arrived here, yeah?

First of all, because I was believing in myself that I had something to do. I want I know what I’m doing. But when I came here like and I saw this like, uh, ignoring and whatever I want to do and I was like, I stopped. You cannot do it right now. You have to wait. You cannot do it. You cannot do it. This is just give me a feeling that I can handle it. I can survive because I just felt that in future it will be work to work. But it was a state really in the loop and boring situation of ignoring and having no permission to do it. You know, it just depends how a person can be patient and can just try and try.

Do you think that you developed the ability to deal with these challenges, or do you think you always had that before?
I had some hard challenge in my life, but I didn’t accept it, that here I will be like in this in this in this situation and those positions and those atmosphere will come that it is also psychological problems coming. And also there is like hard and complicated, as you know, it’s going to be like so much complicated. And sometimes there is no description for that as to how we can say it, because just this is like kind of old world is like “just a refugee understands what the refugees says”, you know, because we know like how the way was it like and like forty-two days. I said in a way and I see death in my in my eyes, you know, like everything. But yeah those abilities just depends on how they can give you the possibilities.

How has Corona covid-19 affected you in terms of your daily life and your mood feeling emotional well-being?
Well, like I received like my study permission to learning and just for two weeks. And after that the Corona come and take the first steps to being survive. It’s just like broken. And there’s Corona also is really giving me so much depression, too, because that tiny communication that I had is also everything was gone. And I were in some old culture companies that like, for example, with art galleries or whatever, I worked, you know, that was all getting out of any orders. And they don’t. And everywhere is closed for sure. It’s not just as me as a refugee is. The fact is the effect on everyone in the world. And I have a feeling of illness that in this way is this time that there is no possibility now, right now, what’s going to be coming to us. The thing is, like into Corona time that everyone and was in was in like having a space from each other. They sent another person in my room in Corona time. And both of us, we never wanted to have this. Both of us, we were friends. We know each other, but we didn’t want it because we have a different communication, different place for work. And I was like in a different way of life. And it was really hard for us. Like when I came inside, I said, oh my God, I don’t know from where my flatmates want to come and with who he’s like meeting. And it was like, sorry, it was fucking stressful for both of us.

Um, now I will ask a couple of questions about your past, as I mentioned before, you can any time say I don’t want to answer this question. You can stop any time. Why did you leave your country? Can you describe what happened?
Like, it’s a long story, but if I want to explain it, I got political and religious problem with my country. And my life was really in danger after like kind of couple of hours hiding. I just drive with the friends and escape to Germany.

How did that make you feel at the time?
It’s make me feel that I have to be executed or I have to go to jail.

How was the journey to Europe? Is there an experience that was particularly difficult for you that you could tell us about? As I said, you don’t have to answer.
The journey to Europe it was first of all, when I think about it, it was kind of that sometime I asked, like, how I come, how I did it. It was like around forty three days. And from Turkey, we drive a boat from Mediterranean to Greece to see to the first dock from Izmir to Chios. And we were like forty two person, 40 to 40 percent was child, old people and there was like just a boat for 20 maximum twenty five like not so heavy person and they just like the criminal, put the gun on us and they said all your bags, whatever you have, you have to just throw out and just take your phone, money and the clothes for children because they were like two or three really child with us and they were like two girls, two women pregnant. And we drive the boat from Mediterranean to Chios on the middle of the night. And we feel that death because we didn’t have any way back. If we want to go back, the criminal was like, kill us. And there were no way back. We just drive. And we saw that on the middle of many trying how the water was to splash in our boats. But I don’t know, like we can call it a miracle. We can call it something else because we saw when we arrived in Chios and the cops there comes we saw some like dead bodies with like broken boats. They just getting inside near the side of the sea. Yeah, we saw it, but we survived. And after that. It was like forty three days and all the way along and we just were per feet, just some parts we just take some hikes, but it was most of the time like per feet. And we just walked to Europe.

Do you think about these events often? Or is there something special like particularly that you think of about this journey?
About this journey, like it was giving me this experience. There is sometimes in life that really you don’t have any way back to from where you come. You just have to go forward. And this is to scare off the fear of the criminal that if we stop, we will die. And they just changing on the part of the way and they just give us to the other person and person by person, they were getting like more aggressive and more stressful and more brutal to us. And yeah, just this experience is really hard to explain. How does it feel? Like I had also still I have nightmares about it. I have dreams and I have some psychological things about it because it was so many countries we passed and it was just from the country countryside from where is like no creatures live. And it was from the middle of November till like end of December that I arrive. And it was like for 40 days. And it was just like in a really cold weather in 2015. And yeah, it was hard journey. I learned a lot.

Could you ever imagined that you would have been able to handle the situation?
No, I didn’t accept it like this because we got cheated by them because they told us you just passed away with the boat. And after that there was someone coming and you go by the ship to Athens and from Athens there’s a car coming. And you were driving the car, but there were not quite.

How were you able to survive, get through it like it, did you have any kind of, um, psychological mechanism that you, um, put the hard times?
I had hard times in my life, but I didn’t that the hard times that if I don’t do that, I would get shot. You know, it was just one way to do it. You survive or not, because it was it was like a higher up pressure on my life that I had it. Yeah. And it was a hard experience. I’m sometimes I’m I really like really didn’t understand it too, because any way that we weren’t we didn’t know what is waiting for us. We didn’t know because. They were for true wants to arrived us, but transport us, but the way was not true.

Before you flee home country, did you have dreams, what was your dream and can you answer like, um, before I flee my dream was…
Like before that the journey was a start. I just had dreams that when I survived this way because I didn’t accept anything like this kind of heart, this coming like I just like imagined that when I arrive in Europe as what I had or what I saw and whatever, because I, I, I were not there and I didn’t have any really connection that just I knew that that day there, like, so much possibility and you can start your life. And this was my dream that I would be there and for beginning at the beginning, complicate it. They got to know me, but they will let me to work. They will let me to do something because I know when someone can do something and have some ability that never let him like this. And that was my dream. But when I arrived, it was 100 percent different of anything that I did my mind about it.

OK, now I will have to wrap up questions. Um, it’s, again, like to go over all everything. The first one is before you leaving your home country. What would you describe as your strengths? Like, um, have you maintained the strengths? Like how did you survive there in your country before and what was your, uh, strength?
Uh, my strength was like I was the person that I was always working so hard and I had like I went from the poor life to the good life.

How so?
To the good life and from like, uh. I survived in my life, but I didn’t really accept it that when I go to the other countries because I didn’t have any imagination to go to Europe to start my life because my life was good, I was enough and I had everything except the situation. But this strength, I have it. But as I said, I was like in a situation that I have to do it, you know, it was like, no way. No other way.

OK, um, what you have been through is like out of question, difficult, but is there anything that came positive out of it?
Yeah, the positive thing that I can believe as a person that I can that there’s nothing is impossible, you can do it, but. You have to really choose your goal and you have to feel your goal. What is your goal exactly? Feel it. You can do it. And it’s like like when you want to see the rainbow, you have to pass the storm and rain is exactly like this. And I feel it. But yeah, I’m positive as far.

And what are your hopes and dreams for a future now?
My hopes and my dreams for future is that I would love to start the job that I like and start the study that I like. And that’s what I need. I just need a fresh life. Just a calm life. Just I have I have to know I have to understand that I can stay here. There’s no stress will come that I have to change this country. You know, because the first thing that they would tell you, we want to get you back to your country, well, but we didn’t come to coming back, you know, to going back. And the only hope that I want here just. I need a calm life, you know, just having some work and doing my good and being not a worm like a worm in this country, just and not be a person to just see my dreams from the TV or in other life. I want to have my own things. And I know I can do it, but I have to become.

OK, we really appreciate everything that you told us, answering all these questions and one last time, is there anything that you would like to add that might help people in Europe to better understand the life of refugees?
As a person, as me, that since five years here with a lot of struggle and so many experience with a different really different human beings as who don’t like us, as who’s like us, just I will say something that each refugee is 90 percent of these refugees they came here. They had a really good life there, but they got in a really troubles and they just leave everything in their countries and they just coming by their own here. Most of us, when we arrived, we didn’t have any money. Just only thing that we need is just understanding us and never blame on us as a terrorist or whatever. It’s look like a story that the Wolfmen want to haunt the sheep. They just put the mask of the sheep and they hunt the sheep. Because no one knows who they are, and if someone wants to come as a refugee and want to be a terrorist terrorist and don’t need to be immigrate and live with the refugees just as an information, we are just a normal human beings who have problem and who escape from his own country chose to start a new life. And new life is new possibilities. And it will come not with ignoring, when ignoring has come everyone getting crazy. Just put one minute yourself become that and you will understand it.

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.