About Refugees, By Refugees

Portrait of refugee Masomeh wearing a plaid hijab and face mask holding her pregnant belly and looking to her right

Masomeh Ahmadi

Pictures taken in:



Photo and interview by:




Zahra Mojahed

Masomeh Ahmadi (pseud, 27), an Afghan refugee born in Iran, always dreamt of having a “better life.” As an orphan living with her cousin’s family, she faced an arranged marriage. Instead, she married the man she loved, and together they fled the country. “No matter how hard the road is, we will endure it,” Masomeh and her husband promised each other at the beginning of their journey to Europe. Things have been difficult: she admits she did not expect she would “would fall as hard as this.” On their way to Turkey, the couple were taken hostage and forced to pay a ransom. Finally, they reached Lesbos and, six months later, mainland Greece, where they now rent a house with two other families and Masomeh works as a registrar for a refugee support organization. With their marriage certificate deemed invalid, Masomeh’s husband’s refugee status has been rejected. Despite all the hardship, however, Masomeh hopes for a future of “peace and quiet.”

Trigger Warning:

full interview

I explained the project to you. If I asked a question you did not understand, ask me. I will explain. And feel free not to answer any questions that you are not comfortable with. Can you introduce yourself first? With previous specifications.
I am Masomeh Ahmadi. 27 years old.

What kind of house do you live in now?
We rented a house. We are registered in Helios.

Did you rent it yourself? Did you get accepted?

Who do you live with?
Together with my husband.

Can you explain the condition of the house, how is it?
We got a house, with three families. There are eight of us in that house. Everyone has taken a room. Then the rent is divided into three. To make house rent cheaper.

How do you spend your time? Are you going to work?
Not because my condition is not good at all now. I am pregnant. The last few days, I have to rest.

Near delivery?

What makes you enjoy your life or be happy for a moment? What makes you happy?
A better life.

Can you explain more what you mean?
Be prosperous. With better facilities. Better conditions.

How has your life been since you arrived in Europe? What good did it do you and what bad did it do you? Can you explain?
The only good thing is that its documents are valuable. Reputable. But the bad thing is that we were all immigrants.

Can you tell us your problems?
For example, we were on the island for six or seven months. The situation was very difficult.

The island?
Moria Island.

Camp Moriah. Lesbos Island.
Yes. We were there for six months. In the tent. Under the tent. (From) when we came here, it will be about five or six months. Here we are, three families in one house. Again, not good.

Support for the government has been cut off. Do you have any more support?
Not from the government. Only I am the registrar of Helios right now. Each month I get160 euros. My husband has been rejected.

Your husband has been rejected and you have the acceptance.

How is it that you have an acceptance but your husband has been rejected?
When we arrived in 2020, they did not accept Iranian marriage. Otherwise we would have had a marriage booklet. It belonged to the Sheikhs. They said we only accept the embassy version of the marriage booklet. They no longer accepted the one we had. We all said the same thing, but two answers came to us. First it came to my husband, then four months later they accepted me.

Can you explain how your life here has made you feel?
Life, well now that is neither good nor bad. Of course, it is not “good” to say. We are only enduring these hardships because the future is better.

Have you ever imagined that you would be in such a situation and face these difficulties and be able to endure it?
No. If I knew this was going to happen, or I had to endure so much hardship, I would never have left Iran to come here.

Do you think that these difficulties and the challenges you faced have made you better in terms of life skills than before?
I became more stubborn.

You became more patient.

How has Covid 19 affected your daily life, your feelings and emotions?
Well, it’s hard. Especially for me, who needs a lot of things now. When I want to go shopping, I see that the store is closed. Or, for example, we can not go out much. We must respect them. It is not like before.

What about the fear of getting sick?
Yes, it is too. There is also the fear of getting sick.

Now I want to ask a question about your past life. What was the reason you left your country? Can you explain what happened?
I was an orphan girl in Iran.

Did you live alone?
I lived with my cousin’s family. Then my husband was not happy with that. When I wanted to get married, they did not accept their proposal. After that, they wanted me to marry another guy, who was in Afghanistan. I did not want him. I was friends with my sister-in-law. She was satisfied. Then we decided to escape and we came here.

May I ask this question, then; Where is your family?
When I was a little girl, my father died. My mother has been dead for six or seven years.

Do you have any other siblings?
I have two brothers, they are in Europe.

How did you feel when these things happened? When they wanted to force you to marry another guy.
It was not good. It was not what I wanted at all. I did not want to do what they wanted.

How did you feel then?
It was upsetting.

How was your trip to Europe? Can you explain what difficulties you faced along the way and that something bad happened to you along the way?
While we were on the way, we were caught by a thief. We were taken hostage on the Iran-Turkey route. That is, at the border, when we got in the car- from Azadi we got in the car and he gave us to a smuggler and the smuggler took us away and threw us into a barn. 12 meters. Something like that. He kept us there for four or five days. Threatening us, asking for forty? No, seventy million Tomans to pass us to Turkey. Then I said that we can pay five million each. When we arrived at Turkey we payed five million Tomans and he said: “No. You must pay us now. Here, no matter how much noise you make, no one hears you.” Then my husband was scared. He told (this to) his family. His family was not happy with me either. They were against our marriage. But (well), they paid all the money, we gave him seventy million Tomans. Then they passed us (over) the Turkish border. We arrived in Turkey and stayed there. We were in Turkey for four, five months and the situation there was very difficult. There was no house, and we both went to work, (but) with a very low salary. (We thought) that if we worked as a couple, we (could) get a house later (but that just) cost us the rent. We paid the rent and the food but there were no savings. If, for example, just one of us worked we would have been stuck. The situation was very difficult once again. My husband asked his family to arrange money for us to go to the island. They had a lot of difficulties, but well, after a while they pulled through and we came to the island. It was a difficult situation in the island as well.

How did you feel then? When you were on the way. When you were taken hostage.
We were afraid. It was over the border. I told my husband you have to pay the money and give it to them. Anything is possible here. Anything can happen to us. They may separate you from me. Take you to one side, kill, hit, rape me. He was scared of these things, then.

Did nothing happen on the way from Turkey to Greece?
No, it was good there.

Do you think about what happened to you along the way?
I think so, but well;

When? What makes you think about it?
When I have a hard day. We never thought it would happen.

How do you feel again when you remember?
It is not a good feeling.

How has the situation you faced affected your life today?
Effect… we did not expect this to happen. But now we are dealing with it.

Emotionally on you …?
Well yes. One gets involved with these things. It never leaves one’s mind.

Did you ever imagine that you would be in such a situation and be able to control yourself? How could you cope with those bitter memories? Were you able to find a place that would help you cope with it, can you forget your bad memories in those moments or cope with it?
It is what it is. It cannot be changed.

Can’t find a place to help you? Psychologist, somewhere?

What about you? By talking to someone you want to talk to or by (talking to) your husband that you can forget about it?
He does not say anything. He says it has just happened. It was a decision we made. We came. We did not know that this would happen, but well; it did. We did not think about it.

Before you wanted to leave your home and these things happened, that is, you were still in Iran at that time, what thoughts, what hopes, did you have for your future? Start with the phrase “This was my dream.” What was your dream for the future?
A better life. Well, Iran was very difficult for me. I was a lonely girl. I was going to work.

And you were looking for peace.

When you left home and started your journey, what was your dream for the future?
To get to a better place. In general, the things we were thinking turned out to be the opposite. With what happened…

But your dream was to get to a good place.

Before you left home, can you explain what your abilities were? What were your strengths? In what way did you think Masomeh was better than the others? Or in what ways were you more powerful than others, for example?
When we were on our way, we said that no matter how hard the road is, we will endure it. But we did not experience hardship at that time. I did not know that… that is, when we left, I thought we were leaving our house and going to Mashhad; to a city. But well;

No, I mean, what did you see as your strengths? Those times when you had not yet left your home.
I cannot explain.

I mean, someone says I have more perseverance, someone says I’m smarter, someone says I have more patience, for example, what do you think you had that you saw it to be better than other things.
I could not say I was better, but I thought I had the courage.

You were brave.

Do you still have that courage? I mean, are you still brave?
In regard for some things, yes. I feel (I am).

Do you feel that these hardships you have faced have caused you to mature, to make a change in your personality or anything, or to think that there is a positive point in your being?
No, it has had a negative impact on my life. Because compared to my peers and friends, I had a better idea of life at that time. I did not think, for example, that I would fall as hard (as this).

Now that you are here, what is your dream for the future? Put the sentence “This is my dream” first. Then tell your dreams. What is your dream for the future now?
My dream is that after so many hardships have come into my life, throughout this one year that we have endured so much- (I just want) peace and quiet.

Thank you very much for answering my questions. My questions are over. If you have something to say to help people better understand the situation of immigrants in Greece, say so.
Take care of them. Consider the immigrants situation. In terms of their files. The conditions they have. For example, there are many. Well, there are too many now. Especially in the camps. In the islands. Many are living in tents. Many are pregnant or sick or old; they are powerless. Take care of them.

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.