About Refugees, By Refugees


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Sometimes when you have an immigrant background, you don’t know where actually do you belong,” says Javier, a Nicaraguan journalist and asylum seeker living in Germany, “Some people make you feel that you don’t belong here, but you don’t belong either in your country.” Javier says he left his country when the government began to target the free press. “I feel safe” in Hamburg, he says, but life has been difficult: “I didn’t know anybody. I didn’t have friends, I didn’t have family. I didn’t speak the language.” And he was “really sad. I had anxiety, depression.” But he says there have also been positive outcomes from his experience: “When you leave your country, you obviously, you lost many things, but you are doing also other things that can build your personality.” Now, he dreams of mastering German and finding a journalism job, but mostly “my dreams for a future… to come back to my country,” where he hopes to reunite with his family: “I would like to have a hug.”

Trigger Warning:

full interview

What kind of housing do you live in?
In this moment I’m living in a refugee camp in Hamburg, in City Nord . The place is really complicated to describe because they are containers. They are small. You sh…, you share the bathroom and the kitchen with, in my case, six people more. 

You live with six people?
Yes, I live with six people. 

And the conditions?
Oh OK, the conditions in the container are not really cool because they are I I think they are like in and I, I think, uh, the containers diminish, so I found I find the containers are. Sie Sind alt, sehr alt und nicht so sauber (They are old, very old, and not clean). 

Mm hmm…
Yeah not cleaned… They have cut. They don’t have any any kind of um I don’t know how to explain. OK, it’s like they are abandoned… 

From the administration, from the refugee camp, I think because we don’t we only have a group of people that make the cleaning once a week. Yes. 

And how do you spend your time?
I spent my time in mornings I have to go to the German school. I do a German course here in Hamburg. I, I learn German since March. 

March this year, yeah 

Do you work?
No, I’m not working. But I did have a mini job in December. I was cleaning, I, I, I did it work with um um wie heisst “Firma” I was in, Ich habe in einer Firma gearbeitet als Reinigung (what is called, the company. I was working in a company where I worked as a cleaning person.) 

You worked for a company as cleaning?
Yeah. I get it clean actually a Kirche (church) 

In the church?
Yeah, In the church. 

And what are some of the things that brings you joy?
Something that bring me joys are sharing with people and connecting with people. Can can be in festivals and workshops and film festival. Music festival. I like to connecting and meeting people. And I cannot forget is spending my time meeting with my best four best friend, best friends or get in contact with my family. 

And how is your life since you arrived to Europe?
Since I arrived to Europe, my life has complete change happened. I really, really complete change because I didn’t speak German when I came to Germany. I did speak Spanish. That’s my mother’s Muttersprache, (mother language) my language. I, I, I make English course in my country. But I didn’t know in any, in any word in German, German. So I think that’s was the biggest difficult part of this journey to coming to Europe. Yeah. But because I love learning language, I think it wasn’t, it wasn’t so difficult to learn. Yeah. 

And what are the other difficulties?
Other difficulties were I didn’t know an…nobody, yeah, here in Germany, I didn’t have any any contact. In beginning I was so afraid because I didn’t even know how to to get through these situations, because in my country, I was, uh, I was working in my career. I had a salary. I had my family. Suddenly I was here alone without a job, without Geld (money), or without the language, without friends. And that was a really, really hard. 

And what has been good here?
All came. My my perspective, uh, that I think there is a good many good things here, in Europe especially in Germany, because I feel. I feel safe. I feel safe, safe and safe, because in my country, the best situation for journalists is where really, really difficult. So I hear I feel really, really great on personal issues. I feel really free because in my country you cannot walk with another man and taking the hand or two women taking the hands or two men taking the hands or a man with or a person can not speak so openly your sexuality. Um, you can do it here. Here you can you can you can not be punished or arrested. I think that was one of the best things. And I think in the social part, I think I I have received viele (many) support from social organizations or individual people who like to work with immigrants, people on people with migrant background. 

And how does being away from the rest of your family from your home makes you feel?
Being far away from my family in the beginning was really, really hard because, um, I’m very close to my mother or my sister, my nephew, when I was a really important support economically for my family, um, when I decided to come to Germany and obviously they were in shock, they were all sad not because of the economy, but just it was because, a, they didn’t know how I was to go from the forefront, the stress of being in that country, a big country like like Germany. So at the beginning I was really, really sad. I, I had anxiety, anxiety, depression. I mean, many times I didn’t want to go back to my country. But I cannot, I cannot um I, I can, I can, I can heal my feelings. make callings often with my mother or my sister and get in touch was really important to calm down my feelings.

Can you describe how it feels to face discrimination here and. Do you have a feeling of not belonging?
Yes, of course I have the feeling that I do not belong in Germany, but I think, sometimes when you have an immigrant background, you don’t know where actually do you belong, because I think some people make you feel that you don’t belong here, but you don’t belong either in your country. Well, that’s a that’s a really, really complicated. But I cannot front discrimination or, and I think the location is really important in. In my side, my side or the other side both the side of discrimination, and this is clue to a front discrimination situation. And not only here in Germany and in other countries, too, it’s really important to open your mind or not and, and not creating conceptual things about immigration or that people who had who has, uh, who had to leave their country, for whatever reason, sexuality and political, religion. 

And could you ever have imagined that you could go through this situation?
No, no, I didn’t. Um, as I told you, I never, never expected to leave my country for in this case, political, political situation or political opinion on our own, because I obviously I love my country. Back in today, I had many opportunities to grow professionally. And I can say I, I had a good future in my as a professional in my country, but all that things that I had planned, I completely, completely changed when I decided to leave my country to or because I was working in a News in a newspaper and the newspaper was not OK with the political system or the government or the newspaper was closed, um, not only me were forced to leave the country. My colleague and my colleagues had to leave the country. 

And do you think you developed ability to deal with these challenges and difficulties here? Do you have that kind of mechanism or strategy?
I think through all these situation I’ve been coming through all. I am still around. I think I I had become more strong. I have opened my mind on understand people’s behavior or people’s thinking about migration, migrants and I don’t I don’t know and I mean, I don’t have an ability or a strategy to confront or to survive, for example, uh, uh, situation like, like these, like migrating, but I think that is important um is to call, find a space, safe spaces to communicate, to express yourself or create connection, connections meet to meet people that had the same situations as you. As you.

And how Corona has affected your life?
Ah, Corona Corona Corona Corona have affected my life in many, many ways. I think the main way is I didn’t have a job. Look at in march, in march, and in a Hotel, in a hotel, in a famous  famous hotel in in America, also in Deutschland, in Europe. All I did it one day practicum, but I did a practice day on. I did the interview in German. I did a practicum day. I did a online test online test um and more and more. I was called on Monday on Monday on. I was told that I didn’t get the job because the hotel is closing because of Corona yeah. 

Um, I will ask now questions about your past, um, you can say any time, I don’t want to answer this, we can skip… Um, why did you leave your country? Can you describe what happened?
I, I leave, no, I left I left my country because um, was really, really difficult situation with the Press or the journalists, independent journalist and government; the government was arresting independent journalists, killing journalists or closing newspapers, channels, television and radios, um, I think more than six, sixty, not six, sixteen journalists left the country in the past two years. Oh, yeah, and viele (many), some too many of many project like independent journalism where are in today’s are online on many of the journalists are working from another country through blogs or websites, news about my and my country. Yeah. 

And how did that make you feel at the time?
At the time I was feeling, um, I have fear naturally, obviously, because when I was taking a taxi or the bus to get to my to my job place or workplace, I was scared, photographed. But I fear I had read, received by my social networks profiles. And so I was, um, I was with, with fear, I was, I, I feel that I, I had to look for a safe place for me, and for my family. I think the fear was more about my family than for me. 

And how was your journey to Europe, was it difficult?
Um, my life is my journey to Europe. To Europe, was I. Surprisingly needs that with or without difficulties, and I was first in Costa Rica for a week, my flight, a departure from Costa Rica to Paris or to Paris to Paris. Uh. Then Munich, in Munich, I came to Hamburg. I didn’t have kind of a problem.

Do you think often about what happens in your own country, like the difficulties that you faced?
You know, I didn’t I didn’t stop to thinking about my country like six, six months, because every time I see, I saw newspapers or news about the situation, I was frustrated. I had too much anxiety. Anxiety. On some days I was really, really depressed because the situation was worse and worse and worse and worse, worse. So I decided to stop watching the news and focus on me, focus my new life, focus on. Learn a new language or meeting new people or for getting the best. 

Do you think the situation you faced in your country affect you today?
Oh, yes, I think the situation that happened in my country affect me and will affect me! Today, the next two years, the next 10 years, because I did it, I did lost too many things, leaving my country that I will never will never going to get back. So, uh, but I think that nothing bad happens with elections or a good thing or I think it’s better to be alive and be safe than have the things that I can call it happening in my country. 

And how were you able to survive those difficulties in your country? And they said because of your political opinion, you had a lot of difficulties when you were working as a journalist. And, um, how did you get through this? Uh, times?
OK, uh. Working in a newspaper, back in that time, back in two thousand, eighty eighty no, eighty, eighteen; in 2018 was a nightmare. I think it was a nightmare for all independent journalists in many countries, because there was so much political persecution, all kinds against journalists. Um, every time I, I was on the way, way to my workplace, I didn’t know if I could actually make it to back to my home. I was in the morning. So, for example, nine o’clock to my work, but I didn’t know if I was able to come back to my home. That’s what every every day, every time, every day. So little by little, the situation was increasing my anxiety or my fear that I didn’t know what will happen, what will happen tomorrow if I stay in the same situation. So I make it something to change it. I think the best idea was leaving or looking for Asyl (asylum) in another, in a safe country with my rights, were respected, with respect, um, with tolerance, um, yeah, etc. 

And did you have dreams back then, what was your dream?
Yes, I have. OK, and when I the year I, I left my country, I was promoted in a newspaper. I did, I did, uh, I did get the position that I wanted that I was fighting for one year then I was directing a small news newspaper, a local newspaper, with News about, um, economy technology, um, cultural, political, social, um. That was my dream, but I had to quit it, yeah. 

And did you have a dream when you left the country?
Yes, the dream that I live when I left the country was to find a nice place with nice people. Uh. A new life, but not time, not so difficult to risk that way. 

OK, now I will ask four questions and to wrap it up, and before leaving your home country, what would you describe as your strengths and strengths, like, um, how to deal with stuff like your power?
Mm hmm. OK, before, uh. When I was in my country, I know that I had a lot of strength, especially because I was not alone. I had a family and I had support from my mother, from my sister. And I had a job. I had savings in my bank, I had! I had the things more clear than I have today, back in today. So that made me, that made me strong. I couldn’t. I couldn’t, I can I couldn’t, for example, getting outside with security with. I didn’t have security, I didn’t have! I was safe, I was, I had a family, I had support. All the things may make made strength; made me strong! Yeah. 

Do you still have them? Do you still have them?
Ah, no, I don’t have strength anymore. I don’t have strength. I feel like I was in a, when I had three or four months here in Germany, I was like a newborn. I didn’t know anybody. I didn’t have friends, I didn’t have family. I didn’t speak the language, I didn’t! And my career worth anything (nothing)! Uh. I can communicate in English, but people didn’t want to communicate in English. And they didn’t, they didn’t want to speak English, German. Oh, so, I think I had to reorganize my life in base all of the new things that were happening within this situation. Yeah. 

What you have been through is really difficult, but do you think you have grown up from this experience?

Is there anything positive came out of it?
Yes, I think when you leave your country, you obviously you lost many things, but you are doing also other things that can build, um, build your personality when you discover other things that you do not have, you didn’t have. But you need it now to come through this new life or this new situation, um, for example. Oh. I didn’t cook, now I cook, I didn’t speak German, I can communicate in very basic German conversation, I, I find new. I love all that experience. I did things that I never, never thought I could do the cleaning work, and I don’t think it’s a bad thing, but I, I always have worked in my career as a journalist. I did never never do cleaning (job) because, as I say, because I didn’t think it was a good thing, it was because I had the good look to find a job in when I was a student in university. I have experience with. Um, I don’t know how to explain, I explained my visions of what you can work in life, not only you, but how would you be prepared in your new situation. That makes me feel good about about that. I have an open mind. What can I grow? Professionally. 

What are your dreams and hopes for future now?
Ok my dreams for a future, will I, to come back to my country. I don’t know if I want to stay there, but the main reason is to, to share with my family. And because I didn’t see, OK, we can talk, we can have video calls but, that’s not, that is. But when I see when I said when I say I want to be with my family, I can I would like to have a hug, um, I don’t know, to share moments and and what other my dreams are in here, in Germany would be finding a job as a journalist. I think then my own my biggest dream is to speak German so I can better be the in current situation. Yeah… 

Ok, thank you for answering all these questions. Is there anything you would like to add to help people in Europe to understand the life of refugees here?
Yeah, OK. I don’t know that what I say can help, but I would like to say that it’s not easy journey, a, an easy journey. But it worked. It worked because, uh. Makes you a better person in many, many ways, open your mind to make you stronger. If you were strong in your country, you were 2000 percent stronger when you passed through all these situations. 

OK, thank you.

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.