About Refugees, By Refugees
Hi dear Masoud, how are you?
Thank you. I’m fine and how about you?
I will ask you a couple of questions. I hope you can answer them. In what kind of accommodation are you living now?
I’m living in a refugee camp.
Can you describe what kind of place it is?
The place is not good at all and it is really hot. We faced lots of difficulties on the way but we were hoping to find a peaceful place to stay until we arrived in the country of our destination. This place is not a good place to live but there is no other way and we have to do it.
How do you feel about living here?
Currently I am not feeling good.
Can you describe your feelings about the place where you are living?
We do not have a good room. We are living in a Conex and it is really hot. We do not have a suitable bathroom or WC. You cannot feel comfortable here for five or 10 days or a month. We do not have a good feeling here at all. We wish to move to our destination as soon as possible and be over with this misery.
Who are you living with there?
With my wife.
How do you spend your time there? Do you go to work or do you do something else?
No, I am not working. We just sleep and wake up and that is how we have to spend our time.
What makes you happy?
Being able to arrive in the country of our destination, feeling at ease by finding a job and reception in that country. We are coming from a country which is miserable. We have to escape to be able to live like other human beings.
How has life been ever since you entered Europe?
It’s getting better gradually. It’s getting better compared to the beginning. And we’ll see how it turns out when we arrive in the country of our destination.
Can you tell me how you feel about entering Europe and how it has been?
First of all, we faced a lot of difficulties on the way, we passed mountains and seas with plenty of hardship. But now we are staying in another country until we arrive in the country of our destination and then we can rest a bit and start a new life.
What were the benefits of living here?
It’s good, not that bad.
Could you please explain more? Now what have been the benefits of living there? Has it been beneficial at all? Have you been troubled or not?
Of course, and we continue to be. But we have no other way but to continue until we reach our goal.
What has been so difficult?
The path that we needed to take was so difficult. We came on foot. At first, we had brought with us good food but on our way, there was no place where we could shop because the police would arrest us. We couldn’t do anything special. We could not show ourselves to others. We had to hide ourselves from cars that passed by and from everyone so they wouldn’t see us. We faced a lot of miseries in mountains and jungles and seas until we arrived here.
How did you feel at that time when you were on the way?
We had a very bad feeling. We did not feel good.
Can you explain how living in this situation makes you feel?
The place where we are now is a bit tiring. I hope to go to a better place that’s not like here and we can have a better life. We’ve come from a place with lots of misery to find a place to live. If the place we want to reach is similar to where we are now, then we went through lots of trouble for nothing. Because we tried hard to reach here suffering from hunger and thirst. If our situation does not change, it would have been a better idea to stay where we were.
How does it make you feel to be far away from other members of the family and your home?
It is so difficult to be far away from your mother, father, sister or brother but we were forced to do this to reach somewhere where we could progress in life.
Not having a sense of belonging or facing discrimination or being stigmatized, how do they make you feel?
We are living in a situation in which relatives make fun of you if you want to progress in your life. They do not see any value for human beings. By leaving our country, we want to get ahead in our life and be far away from temptation and ignore them and not be troubled by such things. So that our minds will be at ease.
Did you ever think you would be able to tackle these problems and cope with the situation?
Of course, I did. I was a little worried because my wife was with me but thank God, she could also do it and come with me.
How could you tackle these problems and adapt yourself with the new situation and live?
When you cannot live in your own country, you would go through the trouble to get ahead in your life. However, it might take some time, like two, three months or more.
How did you feel?
I felt really bad.
Do you feel you are capable of dealing with these challenges and do you think you have always had some skills or strong points which could help you go through this path and tackle all these problems? Have you had a system?
We had a plan to start with and with which we could reach our goals and we continue to stick to that plan. And we will reach somewhere.
Now I will ask you some questions about your past. Why did you leave your own country?
There has been a war in our country for 40 or 50 years. We have had to deal with ISIS or Taliban or our own government. Each day the strength is in a different person’s hands. For us who have no security and no refuge, it is not important to leave our country. Our country is not good for us. We look for a place where we can have peace and where we can live like all other human beings and have fun. We want to have a life like other human beings who live well.
How were you feeling when you were leaving your own country?
I felt free. I felt good.
How has your journey to Europe been? How was it?
We feel that enthusiastic about going to live somewhere where we can have peace so we came here. It is difficult but no pain no gain. We decided to go through this difficulty until we reach our goal and get over it.
Have you had any experience which was very difficult in particular? Can you tell us about it? Difficulty on your journey here?
I did not experience a very special problem but I was with my family and I have faced some difficulties because my wife has been sick. It has been so difficult for us. And it wasn’t a short journey. We have been on this journey for two months now. And there is still more to go. But we thank God and we still need to go on with it because we have a goal. We want to reach our goal.
Given the situation and what has befallen you, have you thought about it?
When we got tired on our way and we thought so to ourselves. But we thought we had to do this. But we came here. We knew it was difficult but you have to bear the difficulty so that you can reach to where you want.
Is there something you think about most of the time?
Yes. Because when we entered Europe, we seemed weird to people and they thought of us, sorry to say, as animals. Because they have not seen such people. The people who have been stricken by war like us but they gradually see people like us. So, it’s getting better for other refugees because Europeans get to know people similar to us more and more. They know that there is a war going on in the refugees’ countries so they have to come here. They think, “they leave their own countries so they can live like us and have peace.”
How does it make you feel when you think about that stuff?
To be honest, both good and bad. We have the difficulties and now we are beginning to see the good parts.
No, I meant the fact that you told us Europeans think about you in a different way from themselves. When you think about this, how does it make you feel?
I said to myself if I had a good country and I would see such people that I hadn’t seen before I would think to myself how they’d come here and why are they in such a situation. How was it possible for them to pass through mountains and seas and several countries? Is it even possible especially by human trafficking? Your life is in danger every single moment and you may be arrested and deported back to your war-stricken country. You can do nothing because you have no official documents. The situation was really difficult but thank God we finally arrived here.
Has the situation you are facing now affected you?
Yes, it has. We have been on the way for two months and such a situation had never happened before. But now it has happened and it has been good for us. And for the others who are on the same journey, those whose countries are war stricken and those who are under pressure in their own country will see that human beings are respected and valued here and you begin to realize that you are also human beings.
Have you ever thought you are able to manage this situation?
I made this decision two years ago. I had this plan to leave my country. I know there has been a war in my country for 40 or 50 years. My country will not be good anymore. So, I was forced to move and come here. I want to forget that country. I don’t want to hear anything about it, neither about its people nor about its government, nothing.
How could you get along with this situation and move past it?
It was really going hard. Our country was really miserable. We were not valued so we had to go through the burden and go somewhere else and see what God wants for us.
Do you know what a strategy is? How should I say it? Did you have special plans? Did you have any strategies to cope with the difficult situations you have now? Sorry, did you have a solution that you made for yourself to get past the difficult situation and bitter memories?
Yes. You are putting your life in danger and start moving in this path. You may even die in the jungle or fall down the mountain or into the sea and get drowned. These are the things that you should carefully think and plan about and see if you can make it. If you can’t do it, you can’t come here. But we had to go and we thought about it. We thought we could do it so we got started and came here.
Where do you get the strength and support?
I worked hard. I went from country to country. I went to Turkey and worked there. I am using my own strength no one helped on me.
I don’t mean financial support; I mean mental strength. Who supports you emotionally? Sometimes one may crack under pressure and can’t bear it. And in that situation who supports you?
I’m with my family. Sometimes my wife’s heart got broken but I would tell her we would go and reach somewhere else. We would feel energetic again and move on. Either I told her this or she told it to me. We started, we had to go and we wanted to reach our goal. Now we are using the same energy to continue.
Before the events that led you to escape your country, what were your dreams? Can you tell me before the war what your dreams were? Start with this sentence: Before the war started, my dream was to…
To be honest, life was good before the war…
No please complete this sentence: “Before the war it was my dream to blah blah” and then the war started. Start with this sentence please: “Before the war started it was my dream to… ”
A-ha. Before the war it was my dream to do this.
What were your dreams before the war?
It was my dream to live in a place where I could have peace, no matter in which country. Like other good people who are literate and are valuable. We can also live like them and have peace. This was my dream.
When you left home what dream did you have for the future? I want you to answer like this: “It was my dream to…” And then say your dreams for the future. What dreams do you have for the future?
I was so young I didn’t have a dream.
No, when you reach your destination, what will your dream be?
I want to make a beautiful life. I want to become a very good person who sees every human equally. I would like to be treated the same as people who live in the country where we want to move to and to have a life like they do and have enough peace so we can forget the war-stricken country we come from.
Let us conclude the questions. The interview is almost over. Before you left your own country what did you see as your strong point? What made you mentally strong to reach your goal?
I wanted to reach my goal.
No, I mean before you left the country when you had no plans to leave it.
Since our fathers were born, our country has been dealing with war for between 40 to 50 years. We have had this dream for a long time to get out of our country. Our president fled the country and ISIS and Taliban came to rule over our country so we were forced to move out of our country and go somewhere else.
I still haven’t got the answer to my question. Before I wanted to leave my country, my parents were my strongest support. My friends were my strongest support. The mental state I was in was my strongest support. I don’t want to talk about the Taliban or the war in your country. What made you feel reassured in your own country (Afghanistan)?
Only your family?
Have you kept your family by your side up until now?
Yes. It was their helpfulness which caused me to be here. First God and then my family.
What you have been through is really difficult. Do you think you have grown in any way to be more experienced as a result of this journey in your life? Can you cope with more difficulties mentally? Has this path affected you positively? Do you think you have changed?
Yes, I think now I am more open-minded. Better ideas have crossed my mind. As I go on, I know that I can make my dreams come true.
What dreams do you have in mind for the future? You can start with this sentence: “My dream is to…”
My dream is to reach my destination and create a good life, have a good future and clear my mind of all the troubles and miseries.
I thank you for answering all these questions. Is there anything you would like to add so that it helps people from Europe to understand refugees’ lives better?
People can see a European country like Ukraine which has been disrupted because of war for 40 to 60 days. Everybody is escaping Ukraine to other countries like Germany. We are just the same. We come from an Asian country and we have the same situation. But people from European countries could not feel that until the same thing happened to one of their own. Now they’re coming to the understanding that refugees’ lives are difficult. There is a war going on in their country. They have a problem because of which they escape their countries. Now that other refugees are coming, they don’t think badly of them.
(There’s a bit more of what he says in the last paragraph, but most of it was translated. At the end the translator thanks him and wishes him to reach his destination)