About Refugees, By Refugees

Portrait of refugee Javid wearing a white shirt with a backpack using his hand to his his face

Javid Shokohi

Pictures taken in:



Photo and interview by:




Hannan Dormiyani

“My dream was to improve in my life and to reach a place higher than what I imagined so that I can hold the hands of a few people and help others,” says Javid Shokohi (pseud, 28). Javid fled Iran and arrived in Europe in September 2022, and now lives in a camp in Regensburg, Germany. He describes the journey as “really difficult,” recalling being stung by an army of mosquitoes at one point: “I only thought about surviving and being able to move at that time.” However, he says, “I am not a person to be weakened by such a strong wind and can’t let this situation weaken me…It is difficult, but we came to build a new life.” His strategy? “To be patient,” he says. “I have been blessed with good things through this.” Javid misses his family, and says their health is his happiness. Looking forward, he hopes that “if God wills, things will happen in the future that I will forget the current challenges,” he says. “For now, I am patient and watching the passage of time.”

Trigger Warning:

full interview

In what kind of accommodation do you live in?
Well, we are in a camp bro. 

Would you describe your situation?
It is not normal. However, we use the facilities provided in the camp. There are fridges, cupboard, etc.

Who do you live with?
I live alone. 

How do you spend your time in the camp? Do you have a job? 
We are not allowed to have jobs. The rules here are very strict. But I have a book and I busy myself by reading it.

What makes you happy?
Visiting my family means everything to me because homelessness makes us be sad. My happiness is healthiness of my family and my bright future. I don’t know what will be my future. Coming out of the completely stressed and uncertain is very important for me. 

Ever since you entered Europe how has been your life?
Since I was a hard-working person, I thought that it would be easy, but when I came, the hardships were much more severe than in Iran. I have no choice and I have to get myself somewhere to see what happens. 

What is the benefit of being in Europe for you?
Compared to where I used to live, the benefits here are much greater, such as the culture of the people, and I think there are good people here. And where I lived, I can’t even call its people animals because it is an insult to animals. I see everyone here as human. There is humanity in their faces but where I lived didn’t have such things. 

Are you done talking?

What has been difficult in Europe?
Learning a new language, engaging with a new culture and new food and works are hard. I have to do the jobs that I have never done in my life. It is an opportunity for me that I have the potential to be reborn like a phoenix and do these things. These things have its own difficulties. 

Can you describe how living here has made you feel?
The fact that I was able to reach here safely is both a mercy and a blessing for me. It was hard, but at least I was able to achieve what I wanted. The future will determine what will happen to me.

How does being away from the rest of the family and home make you feel?
How do you feel when you are away from home and family? If it were you and you were away from your family, how would you feel? I will feel the same way. Every person has his own criteria and likes to be with his family and dear ones. Where I live, I don’t have access to the internet, that’s why it’s difficult for me to communicate with them. And I have no information about them at the moment which bothers me. 

Alright. How does feeling of not belonging and discrimination against you affect you?
Sorry, can you repeat your question? 

How does it feel to be discriminated again?
I got it. First of all, it is not a good feeling because it gives a feeling of humiliation. I really don’t know if someone misbehaves with me, how should I treat him in response, should I behave well or badly. This is not resolved for me. I have seen before when these same foreigners came to my homeland and what happened. Now, I came to their homeland and have share in the community. It has always been and was. I was in love with this place since childhood which can be a positive thing for me, but in any case, I am a foreigner. And I have to cope.

Have you ever thought that you can cope with the situation you have now?
I was a person who has suffered a lot and I raised myself in difficult conditions. The situation here is more difficult than I thought, and I am not a person to be weakened by such a strong wind and can’t let this situation weaken me. It is difficult, but we came to build a new life.

Did you have a special skill to deal with these difficulties or did you create a mechanism or plan to deal with the difficulties?
My strategy is to be patient and I have been blessed with good things through this. I always use this strategy because I can think more patiently, what are the best things to do? Patience is really a wonderful thing that I use.

Now I want to ask you some questions about the past the time before you came to Europe.

Why did you leave your country?
May I not answer some of the questions you ask? 

Yes, sure.
If I answer your question, I will have to answer your other questions as well. I have come to save my life, not to risk my life.

It is okay. You have the right not to respond the inquiries. Now you don’t say anything about the story of leaving your country. It is possible to tell me about the feeling of that time?
It is a very bad feeling. I felt worthless. I destroyed whatever bridge I built and moved on. I only looked ahead and did not look behind me.

How did you travel to Europe?
With a smuggler who helped me come here. I can’t say from what kind of paths, but he made me reach by whatever means.

Is there a particularly difficult experience that you can tell us about?
Can I tell from the route?

Yes, sure.
On the way, there were an army of flies that stung all of our body in such a way that it’s still itchy. I think I’ve got skin allergies. But now it’s feeling a lot better. The experience of the way is not good at all but well, since everyone is trying to save their lives, they will come through this path.

How did you feel when those events happened to you?
I was bitten by mosquitoes to the point of death, but thank God I was still breathing and I made it here. I only thought about surviving and being able to move at that time. 

Do you think about these things that happened to you?
Every day, every moment, every night, especially before I sleep, I think about the events and then I sleep.

Do you think about a special thing?
Nothing special in general, I did not take the easy way out. It was really difficult and had difficulties and these difficulties were more than my capacity, that’s why it passes so much in front of my eyes that it has a lot of psychological burden on me. 

What do you feel when you review these events and remember them?
Because I use the strategy of patience and there is really nothing I can do. First of all, I take a few deep breaths so that I don’t have a stroke and calm myself down and sleep.

What effect does the situation you faced today have on your life?
Physically no, but it has affected my mind and soul. It is like a nightmare for me and it is very painful. It is really something strange that I don’t know how to describe.

Did you imagine that you can deal with this situation and manage it?
I am good at management and can manage my life in difficult situations. I was a successful person in life management. But this has been more difficult for me than I thought because several challenges have come to me all at once and it has become very difficult for me to manage my plans. In general, I know how to manage my life well.

How were you able to cope with these conditions and pass?
As I mentioned in most of your questions, I said that patience has been my only way to deal with challenges and patience is the only thing I can do in my situation. As a human being, I have the right to do a series of things, but at the moment I’m limited in such a way that they are observing me. Even if I want to pick my nose, they will observe me. I can’t do anything and I can’t start a business. I became like a fish in a glass that only breathes and can’t do anything else. It’s alive but it’s not ‘living.’ My life here hasn’t started yet and I can’t say that I like living here. In short, I’m undecided here. I was someone who hated uncertainty and. Now I have it too.

Have you created a special strategy to deal with challenges and overcome these difficult conditions?
For now, no, and I’m trying to deal with it using the patience strategy. But I hope that, if God wills, things will happen in the future that I will forget the current challenges. For now, I am patient and watching the passage of time.

Where do you find mental strength and spiritual support?
I get mental strength from books because books and reading give a person a wonderful spirit. I always try to see the glass as half full and I always had hope that a good future would be made for me. I thought that I could build my own life but, it will be made for me. I have to get this strength from the book because in normal situations I got strength from the book and even now in this situation the book can give me more strength to live a calmer life.

What was your dream about the incident that led you to run away from home? I want you to start with the statement that my dream was to…
My dream was to build a life to eliminate all the miseries I saw and live a different life. I want to create a part of my life where all past events are like a dream and I forget them. To achieve my dreams, if not, at least touch them. In my past life, I was nothing to be proud of. I want to be proud of myself in my new life.

When you were leaving your home, what was your dream? I want you to start your by saying “My dream was…”
My dream was to improve in my life and to reach a place higher than what I imagined so that I can hold the hands of a few people and help others, while in my previous life, others had to help me, because I didn’t have the situation to be what I wanted to be. I feel like I deserve more now compared to my previous life, at least I want to strive for the future with the hopes of building a better life. 

To sum up the questions we asked, what would you describe as your strengths before leaving your country?
I was not well…

No, no … wait. I don’t mean what potential you had and what you knew? I mean, what did you feel in yourself that are your strengths?
I am a forgiving person and I want to hold people’s hands, not for people to hold my hands. This has always been my strength and I want to reach this position so that I can hold people’s hands and help them and be merciful. I haven’t reached it yet, but I wish to. I want to achieve it in my life, that’s why I’m striving for it. 

Did you keep what you said until now?
What do you mean? 

Did you keep these wishes that you had or did they change and you could not keep them?
Look, now that I am talking about these capabilities, it means that I have preserved them. If anyone else had come this way with so many misfortunes, problems, humiliation, I am sure that he would have turned back now and would not continue on the path, and he would have changed his mind and could not continue. But I kept them that I was able to reach here and I will keep them 100 per cent in the future. These are the real goals of my life because I worked hard for them.

What you went through sounds really difficult. Do you feel that you have grown in any way or achieved something positive as a result of this experience?
One hundred percent because it is not possible to go through a process and nothing happens. Any steel you hit becomes more resistant. I learned a few things along the way. I endure hardships to progress, not to downgrade but to go up, and I try to maintain the same spirit.

What are your hopes and dreams for the future? I mean, you are currently in Europe and you are not involved with your old problems. I want you to start by saying that my dream is…
One of my dreams … I was nothing in the past but I always had the potential of being someone and that’s why I’m here. And my dream is to really want to be a person who is productive and useful to the society that accepted me with open arms. I want to be a productive person in my new life as well as be productive for people around me and look at them as people who have the potential, sometimes more than me. I don’t want to look at people with hatred as we learned to that in my previous life. I have built myself and reached here and I understood that what I learned here is completely different to what I used to know, and I want to pursue the future with the same vision. 

Thank you very much for your time and responses to the questions. Do you want to add something so that the people of Europe and other asylums can better understand the life here?
First of all, people should appreciate family. Second, we should appreciate the homeland. And a person should always work hard for the development of himself, his family and his country. Never leave your family and country unless you save yourself from hardships. My motto has always been to approach your goal and run towards it and never stop. I have nothing else to say and I apologize if my tone of voice was bad.

It was magnificent. Thank you. 
You are welcome.

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.