About Refugees, By Refugees

Portrait of refugee Koor Mo holding a fist against his chest and covering half his face with a cloth

Koor Mo

Pictures taken in:



Photo and interview by:




Mahmoud Jabbie (AMJ)

Koor Mo (pseud, 22), says his dream is “for Somalia, it will be like peace country.” Now living in a tent in a refugee camp on the Greek island of Leros, he says he’s happy “because my life is safe.” Koor Mo fled Somalia after the militant group al-Shabab killed his brother who ran a studio. “They don’t like the music, the filming,” he says. The organization then targeted Koor Mo. “They call me and they say to me, we kill your brother and we kill you. If you do like this work, we kill you.” Since leaving Somalia Koor Mo’s mother died, leaving his siblings without parents to take care of them. The responsibility has fallen on him. “When I remember that situation, I feel very bad.” He wants to get out of the camp so he can make money and support them. But, he says, “I feel a lot of pain because I can’t do nothing for now.” He remains optimistic though. “When I sleep, I wake up [with] another idea… Another plan… I renew my life every day.”

Trigger Warning: Violence/Murder

full interview

Hello, how are you?
I’m fine.

Where are you from?
I’ve come from Somalia.

Okay, nice talking to you. What kind of housing do you live?

Where do you live?
I was living in Leros Island in Greece.

OK, so where? Are you living in the house or in the camp?
Now, I live in tent.

In tent, in the camp?
Yeah, in the camp

So, yeah. So like how the camp look like?
The camp look like it’s bad

Like the condition in the camp?
Yeah, the condition is very bad. Yeah, it’s very bad because about the food, it’s not a good. For everything, for the money. Yeah, life is very bad.

So like who do you live with? Your parents? Or you came alone?
I was live alone.

OK, so how do you spend your time here in the camp? How do you spend your time? What do you do in the camp?
I was, I was going to the school in all the morning at eight up to two. After that, I will be my cook, after that, I make a tea for handmade, handmade tea. After that, I sleep.

So.. Do you work? Do you have a job?
I work for. Yes, I work here. But the work is a volunteer work,.

Voluntary work?
Yeah, volunteer work.

OK, where?
In ECHO Hub, it’s called.

Okay. So what, yeah like what help do you do, yeah do you help in the hub?
Yeah I help in the hub for translating the Somali people.

To English?
Yeah, to English.

OK, it’s good. Like what are some of the things that brings you joy?
At school?

No, not the school in general life. What brings you joy? What makes you happy?
Yeah, I makes me happy for training.

Training, like what?
For the gym. I like to, like to do the gym.

OK, that’s good. So how life has been since you arrived in Europe?

How life has been since you arrive in Europe? How your life is since you came here in Europe?
Yeah this a very bad, because when I was come from Somalia, the al-Shabaab, they will be aiming for me. They need to kill me. Yeah. I was coming here like, like that situation.

So how does that makes you feel?
Yeah, it’s a very, it is very bad.

So what’s been good about being here in Europe. What is the good thing of being here in Europe?
For my life is a safe for here, I feel very good.

What is the bad thing again?
The bad thing?

Difficult things?
God, the difficult things here. I live in a camp. Yeah, the situation is very bad.

Okay, so how does that makes you feel?
Yeah, it’s feel like bad bad. Is and when I leave my country is better bad for here.

Okay, can you describe how living here has made you feel?

Can you talk about to live here how it has made you feel? How do you feel?
For Leros?

I feel happy for Leros because my life is safe for here. And after that everything is will be, yeah, for my life.


So how does being away from the rest of your family home makes you feel?
Yeah, for the, for the family?

Yeah, because you are not with them now.
Yeah, because I’m not with them, I feel very bad. When I was here my mom she’s died, yeah.

Oh, I’m so sorry.
Yeah, my mom, she died when my siblings is, is alone. I don’t know where they are. My father is, is, like same. But I feel very bad. When I remember that situation, I feel very bad.

I’m so sorry you’re going through.
No problem.

How does the feeling of not belonging, the stigma, impacting you?

Like yeah, because like you are far away from your home now.

Yeah, like you feel you are like because like there’s different people like the Greeks, the Arabs, like the other African.

Like how does that makes you feel?
That’s feel for me like they are my friends. I feel for friendly, for the peace and love. Because the people is not the same. Yeah, you are meet some of racism. Yeah, you are meet some of good like your father, like your mother. Yeah, the people is not the same. Yeah, I love them. Yeah.

Could you ever imagine that you will have been able to undergo all this situation?
The situation?

Yeah, the situation is really, it’s not good because I doesn’t have a life for here, but it will be, it will be better, yeah.

So how have you been able to overcome all this struggles?
The struggles?

Yes, you have been through. How do you overcome them? Like, how do you been through them? Like,
Ah… through?

I don’t know.

Like how do you overcome all these problems? Like, you know, like you have been through a bad time, like you have been through a hard time. Like how do you, how do you cope with these things?
Um, for the camp?

No, general from Somalia, the al-Shabaab, like since you left your country, like, yeah, everything is hard. How do you cope with that?
Yeah, but I lost my young age like before, before I was come. I was coming out of my country before one year. I lost my time. Now, I’m in camp, the situation is bad. Yeah, I’m waiting the decision, I feel the stress. Yeah, life is a problem.

So, how does that make you feel?

How does that makes you feel?
It’s very bad.

So like, do you think that you have developed all the ability to deal with these challenges? Like, what gives you strength back home?
Back home?

Yeah, what was your strength?
Ahh, for, for my life? I’m not saving my country.

More like, you know what I’m trying to say. What keeps you to move?
To move? Yeah, the… the motivation.

The motivation, yeah, for my, for my siblings, because they don’t have a mother, they don’t have a, they don’t have a father and they don’t have a big brother. Um, but I, I need to take my siblings in Somalia and I need them, yeah.

So like how as the Co-, uh, how has the COVID affect you? In terms of your daily lives, in your mood, the feeling and the normal emotional well-being?
Uh, for the COVID?

Yeah, the COVID. How it affected you?
Yeah, but the COVID it’s not affected me. But I feel afraid that COVID times. Yeah. I am in camp, the camp situation is bad, is it dirty. Yeah. But I feel bad. I feel afraid.

So, why do you leave your country?
I leave my country for safety. My, my life.

Can you talk about what happened, yeah?
What happened there in Somalia?

No, with you.
For me.

Yeah, why you leave?
Yeah, and, and we have a group, their name is al-Shabab. They need to kill me. And they killed my big brother. Yes. And they killed my big brother.

So why they want to kill you and they kill your big brother?
Yeah, we have a studio in Somalia and they don’t like the music, the filming, yeah, and they don’t like the journalists, everything. But my brother he filming the wedding, the parties, yeah. And they, and they, and they affect him. They say to him, don’t do like this, we doesn’t like your job. After that we have only that work to do, to build my, my family. And he, he, he, he doesn’t feel nothing and after that he kill him. For me, I open the shop – another place – the studio. But I know only that work, I try to work but after that they call me and they say to me, we kill your brother and we kill you. If you do like this work, we kill you. And I tell my mother, she said to me, don’t do, close the the, the studio. And after two, after two days, they come to me and they make me an injury. Yeah, I have injury for my leg, but now I don’t feel problem for my leg. But everything is okay. After that time, my mother she’s die when I was coming here. Yeah, that, the last year, December 2019, she’s died. That, that bomb crash the al-Shabaab.

I’m so sorry for that, how does that makes you feel?
Yeah, but it’s feel for motivation because my mother I love it, I love her a lot for my life.

How was your journey to Europe?
Yeah. I need, I need to be like, yeah, I need to be like Trader you know, making money for the online. Yeah. I have like that and that idea.

How do you come to Europe?
I come to Europe for my safety, for yeah.

No like, how do you come? The way you move, the journey?
Yeah, the way? For the Sea?

No, like from your homeland to here.
Ah, my homeland in Turkey.

Yes, and if there is any other experience like you will want to share through the journey and what you learn, the difficult things like the experience? All these things.
Ahh, yeah. I know, I know and hope to make a, hope to make a film, but that’s not my experience. I had my brother, he led me in the work, but after that he died. But now…

You know what I’m trying to ask you?
Uh huh?

Like, is like when you leave your home land? When you are going to here?
Yeah, yeah.

Like the experience, the things you see, the difficult things, like the good things.
Yeah, every day I meet the bad situation. For the, for the Turkey people, for the sea, for everything, for here now. Yeah. When you was going to town you, you, you, you see the one, he doesn’t like you, for your color, for everything, for you refugee. He doesn’t like you, the Greek people. That, when I was in Turkey, the same. When I was in, in the sea you feel afraid for the Turkey army. Uh, the situation is very bad for my time up to now, I feel, yeah, bad.

So how does this make you feel?
Like it’s motivation. I, now, I feel motivation because I will be better, yeah. I have two years. Two years, challenge. Yeah, I need to change my life. Yeah.

Do you always think… Do you think about this always?
Do you think?

Do you always think about these things that you have been through?
That have happen to?

Yeah, do you always think about the past?
Ahh, yes, yes. I think, I think. Because when I remember my history for the past, I feel distressed, When I remember my mother, my family, yeah, I cry, yeah I cry farewell. But now that’s motivation for me. Yeah.

What do you feel when you think about these things?
Uhhh… for feel?

What do you feel? The feeling?
Ah, the feeling.

Yes, when you think about these things.
Ah. The feeling is very bad. Yeah, because I’m refugee. Yeah, I’m not in my country. Yeah.

Does the situation you face now affected today?
The situation?

The situation like you face from the past? I mean, it’s affected you now?
For the past?

Yeah, the situation. Not, not now.

It still affected you?
No, no, no, no, no, I forget it. But something, something, when I remember, I feel affect.

Could you ever imagine that you will be able to, you will be able to handle all the situation?
For the past situation?

Yeah, for the past til now.
Yeah for the past, I forget. But now I need to, I need to make something. I need to make something. I need to change my life for here up to there.

How were you able to survive all these bad things you have been through? How were you able to survive all these bad things you have been through, to survive all these things you have been through?

How do you survive it?
I survive it, it’s nice for, for myself, because when you are man, you are strong. The best situation it will be strong for you. You will be something, you can do something, yeah. When I sleep I wake up, another idea. Yeah. Another plan. Yeah. I renew my life every day, every day because my past is very bad. Yeah.

what are you hoping for, for your homeland?
My homeland?

Yes, what do you hope for them?
Ah, it will be okay, yeah it will be okay. I hope, maybe, after years, after time, it will be okay for my homeland and I might need to come back, it will be okay. Yeah.

What is your dream for them?
For, for Somalia?

Somalia, yes, your dream for Somalia.
Is dream for Somalia, it, it will be like like peace country, yeah? Peace country. Because the peace, the part of life, the most part of life. When you have a peace you have everything, yeah? When, in my Somalia, in my country, you feel afraid. They kill – al-Shabaab – every day, a lot of people. But that’s not true, that’s not humanity. But I feel, I feel sad in my country when I was in my country. But no, I didn’t see someone, someone die for here. Yeah. But in Somalia, when I was in Somalia, you can see someone die, someone injured, yeah.

So how does that makes you feel like when you see people die?
When you see someone died like you confused. You feel, it feels very bad situation and you feel angry for your country. Why it is. Why it is Somalia. Why is like that. You feel like this and you choose to come out. Yeah, because I’m young and I know the younger people, they are like they are in Somalia now, they feel like this because the emotionally is not good for Somalia, but everything it will be okay.

So when you was in back home, what was your dream?
In my back home? Yeah.

In Somalia.
Yeah, yeah. I need to be like someone do, someone help the poor people. Yeah, the, the people they don’t have a mother like me. They don’t have a father like me. I need to help like my, my brothers and sisters. They are like that situation. But I feel a lot of pain because I can’t do nothing for now. Yeah, I can’t do nothing. But when I will be someone have a, have a money, yeah have a goal. Yeah I will be, I will, I will help them. Yeah. When I will come back Somalia, I will help them.

So what was, what is your dream now?
Now? Now, I need, I need to be like someone make some money online. Yeah because when you work in Europe, the work is 2000. Yeah. 2000 about 2000 or 3000. That’s not enough for me because I have four brothers and sisters. They need the money and I need, and for me I need the money for myself, yeah.

Before leaving your home country, what will you describe as your strength? Your motivation?
The motivation?

That time, I, I, I doesn’t have, like, this motivation because now I’m alone for my family. I’m the one who can help my siblings, yeah? But that time my father is live and my mother is living, for her, for her children.

So you have been, you have been through a very bad, bad time, do you feel like you have grown in any way as a result of the experience? Or has anything at all positive come out of it? You have been in a very bad time like you think you have grown like through the experience, the way you think?
Yeah, yeah. The past time is all my experience because I feel every day pain, like is stress. I feel bad situation. It’s like motivation for me now its, it will be like, (knocking) come on, hurry up, hurry up, yeah.

Okay, so we really appreciate your honesty in all this question. Is there any other thing that you would like to add to help the people in the entire Europe like to gain a better understanding of the life of the, of the life of a refugee here?
Yeah, for?

Like do you have any other things? Like you will like to, like for change like the understanding of the Europeans, the way they think about the refugees?
Yeah, the refugees when they are in camp, they doesn’t have a good life. For the houses, for the money, for the food, yeah, they doesn’t have. But if they can, if they can change that life, yeah, they change. But I tell them, the refugee, they are not, they are not like evict, they come from their countries to to save herselves. For me, I was coming here for, for my, for myself to save here. I doesn’t have a problem, my, my, my Greek people, they are like my mother, my sisters, my brothers, yeah, like my fathers. They helped me, yeah they helped me. But now, I feel very good. Yeah. When I look at my country, yeah, I feel very good for here. Yeah.

Okay, thank you so much.
You’re welcome bro.

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.