About Refugees, By Refugees
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“I love to become a painter and do drawings,” says Latefeh Sadeqi (16). An Afghan previously living in Iran, Latefeh traveled with her family to Greece to escape ethnic conflict: “There has been war in my country, civil war that has been among different ethnicities.” It was also difficult to plan for university in Iran due to the high cost. “We could not go to university if we wanted, because we could not pay its fee,” she explains. Latefeh came to Europe by boat, which she remembers “sank twice during our way to Greece and all of us fell down in the water. It was very hard… I was thinking I would lose my family and my life any time.” Despite this, she feels that her journey gave her strength: “I think I have become stronger than the time we were in Iran. And be able to overcome the barriers that I have in front of me.” Latefeh says her dream “is to go to a good country and they accept us there and be able to live comfortably and be able to achieve the job and dreams that I want.”
Trigger Warning: Conflict, discrimination (ethnicity)
Can you introduce yourself?
Hi, I am Latifa, Latifa Sadeqi, I am 16 years old and I am from Afghanistan.
In what type of house do you live?
Inside camp in a room.
Can you explain its situation?
Hmmm we are inside the camp which has some rooms where we live. We are one family and it is better than the other camps.
Who do you live with?
With my family.
How do you spend your time here? Do you go to work?
No, I don’t work. I go to class in city school.
What are some things that make you happy?
The fact that I am with my family and we are far from fighting and these things.
How has your life been from the time you entered Europe?
It has gotten harder but it is still better than my own country where there is war and we were not safe.
What has been good for you here and what has been hard?Can you explain it?How was Moria?
The fact that I can reach the things that I want and there is no barrier in front of me.
Did you have any problems from the time you came to Europe?
In the other camps that we were living in, there was fire, fighting, and every night the Afghans would fight with Arabs and with our own Afghans and our lives were in danger.
Can you explain how living here makes you feel?
It is good not bad but if they can pay more attention to our work, that would be better.
How has being far from your family and friends affected you?
Being far from family … I am with my family but being far from our relatives, my cousins and close relatives is not very good.
Would you ever imagine being able to get out of this situation and overcome them?
No, I would never think to come through this trip but now that I have come, I have found it not that much harder than I had thought about.
Do you think you have gained the strength to fight against the challenges or you think you had these skills from the past?
No, I think I could fight against them after I came here. It is not like I had it before.
It means you were not this strong before?
How has Corona affected your life, your morale, and your emotions?
We are not very comfortable because we cannot easily communicate with each other before, shake hands and do things like that. We cannot easily go anywhere that we want because everywhere is quarantined.
Why did you leave your country? Can you explain what happened?
I have not been in my country but from what I have heard, there has been war in my country, civil war that has been among different ethnicities. That is why we left our country.
So what were your problems when you came from Iran?
We could not easily study in Iran and everything was very expensive and we could not go to university if we wanted, because we could not pay its fee.
What was your feeling at that time?
Ahmmm it was not good because I could not achieve my dreams and the things that I wanted.
How was your trip to Europe? Did you have any special experience that you would want to talk about?
It was very hard. The thieves stole our belongings during our way in Iran. Our boat sank twice during our way to Greece and all of us fell down in the water. It was very hard.
You did not have any other problem?
It was very hard. The situation in the hostels was very bad. Also, we walked the long road for hours from night to day and day to night. It was bad.
What was your feeling at that time?
It was that we had a better living condition but it is very hard …
Can you say “the feeling that I had …”
The feeling that I had was very hard, very much. Because I was thinking I would lose my family and my life any time. It was hard.
Do you mostly think about these incidents? And when?For example, is there any specific time that you might think about these incidents?
When I get very sad, I think to myself why shouldn’t we have a country of our own that now we face such difficulties. Then during the nights, I think about why we became this.
What is your feeling when you think about them?
I get sad when I see other people having good countries. They all have good countries but we should be displaced and immigrate all the time.
How has the situation that you have faced today affected you? How?
I think I have become stronger than the time we were in Iran. And be able to overcome the barriers that I have in front of me.
Would you ever think to be able to overcome such a situation?
No, I would never think that such incidents might happen to us.
How could you pass all these problems? Have you created a fighting strategy to get rid of this situation? Where would you get your supporting power?
When I would see my family and when I would see how hard we struggle to reach at least a better place. I would tell myself that I am able to do this.
What were your dreams before you escaped from your house and before these incidents happened?Start with “my dreams were …”.
One thing was that our country got better so we could go back to our country.
Say this at the beginning.
My dreams before coming here were for our country to get better so I could go back to my own country and to do my studies. But I knew that we wouldn’t reach anywhere in Iran.
What are your dreams now?
Now my dreams mmmmmm …
What are your dreams for the future?
Now, it is to go to a good country and they accept us there and be able to live comfortably and be able to achieve the job and dreams that I want.
For example, what type of job do you like?
I love to become a painter and do drawings.
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.