About Refugees, By Refugees

Misaa Osman

Pictures taken in:



Photo and interview by:

United Kingdom


Sudanese and British

Bnar Sardar

My dream: I need to help people in my country,” says Misaa Osman (34), a refugee from Sudan. She also dreams “to do the health and social care to work with old people. I wish to do that.” Misaa and her three kids left Sudan to follow Misaa’s husband who had a “big problem with the [Sudanese] government.” On arrival in Bristol, England, Misaa “missed my family back home and I didn’t speak English this time. And just I felt very scared. You know, oh my god, it’s just terrible.” Misaa says: “I just remember every day I was crying.” Bristol Refugee Rights helped, says Misaa: “I went to them and then they put my children in creche. And I have English classes. Yeah, then step by step, I just feeling good.” According to Misaa, “I was a very unconfident person before, but this time, I just feel like I’m very strong and very confident.” Now, though, “I can talk. I can say my opinion. I can say no.”

Trigger Warning:

full interview

Hello, my name is Bnar. I’m doing one project about the 1000 Dreams about refugees. And I want you to introduce yourself, and what’s your name, and when you came to the UK.
Hello, Bnar. My name is Misaa, Misaa Osman. I came to UK since 2010 with my three kids. Um, yeah.

You can tell me what kind of housing you live in now. Describe for me?
Okay, I live in council housing. It’s called a maisonette. Downstairs and upstairs. I have three bedrooms, big living room, bathroom, and toilet. And I have a kitchen. My house is very nice in a very good area.

What do you like here when you’re saying in a good area?
Everything. You know, quiet. Good neighbors. The neighborhood is very good in the street. If you just walk in from my house until all the way to the end of the road, you can see a lot of different things like a supermarket, college. Everything in my area is beautiful and nice.

Who do you live with?
I live with my husband and my three kids. I have two boys and one girl. My girl, she’s the oldest. She’s 14 years old. And I have two boys, one 11 and one 13. Yeah.

How do you spend your time here?
I spend my time doing a lot of things because I am an active woman. I do a lot of things. When my children go to school, I love walking to a road called Gloucester Road. I love it because it’s old-fashioned supermarket, a lot of charity shops and veggie and fruit as well shops. A lot of shops, I like just walking on all the streets. And sometimes I spend my time with my friend to go just to a cafe or restaurant to have a good time and fun time.

What are some of the things that bring you joy or to bring you happiness?
Yeah, when I work. I love when I work. You know, just enjoy myself. I feel like I’m very strong when I work. Yeah I enjoy myself when I work.

How has life been since you arrived in Europe?
My life when I just came the first time is a terrible life. It was, you know ,I have very big stress because I just came with my childrens. They were very young. My youngest one was 7 months. And one was 1 year and a half. And my daughter, 3 years. My husband, he was working this time. I just stayed with them alone in home. I missed my family back home and I didn’t speak English this time. And just I felt very scared. Ya know, oh my god, it’s just terrible, a terrible feeling. Yeah.

Yeah, what’s been good about being here? The good things?
The good things? Um, yeah When I improved my English, you know, is just I do a lot of good experiences, like just, I have two or three courses I do it, like interpreting course, health and social care. Yeah, a lot of good things I do in this country. I, you know, the first thing I do it because I was a very unconfident person before but this time, I just feel like I’m very strong and very confident. Yeah, a lot of good things I do in this country. Because I was before is very scared in the beginning but when I was just living a lot I have a lot, a lot of good things. A lot that I can’t do in my back home. A lot of things, like when I just feel like an independent person. Because in my back home, you can’t do that. But in here, yeah.

Okay, what’s been difficult? There’s a difficulty for you in here.
It’s the one thing just difficult for me. Just missing my family back home. My mom, my sister, my brother, all of them.

Can you describe how living here has made you feel? How do you feel right now?
I feel, just like you know, good and strong. Yeah, I feel comfortable a lot. 

Okay. How does being away from the rest of your family make you feel when you are far away from your family? How do you feel?
In the beginning, I feel very bad. I feel very bad, like you know. I just remember every day I was crying. I have you know like big stress. I feel like you know something is missing. I don’t like to stay in UK. I need to go back to my country. And like 2 years, I told my husband that. I don’t like to stay here. I need to go back. I need to go back. Until I found some organization calling Bristol Refugee Rights. It was a very good organization, very big. They help in all the refugees. And they helped me as well a lot. Like I went to them and then they put my children in creche (daycare). And I have English classes. Yeah, then step by step, I just feeling good. I work with them in the kitchen, in the welcome. And then, yeah they just push me to do a lot of things like interpreter. And 2 years or 3 years of work with them, then I go to work in reception. Yeah.

What are you doing in reception?
I just register the new people when they came. Yeah, I put their name in registry. Yeah, a lot of things in reception, just, I make it.

Do you think, in the beginning, you can handle this situation?
To be honest, I don’t think so. Because, you know it’s very difficult in the beginning. In the beginning, it’s very difficult. Especially, I’m very scared. Because my husband’s situation is very difficult when I came here. He left us in Sudan because he have big problem with the government. Yeah, when I left my country, came in UK, I just think a lot about how I can’t go back to my country because of my husband’s situation. And this time, you know, I’m confused, scared. Yeah, it’s so difficult to handle in the beginning, yeah. It’s so difficult.

What’s your challenge in your country? I know you have a big family, but when your husband’s not there and you are alone… Maybe I can’t say you are a single mom there with the three kids, but how do you handle being there? What’s the challenge there?
You know it’s a challenge. It’s not too big you know because we have a different situation in Sudan, especially when your husband left you to go to another country and all that. You can’t stay there alone. You should to go back to your family. In Sudan, you know, we have like it’s not a religion, but traditional. When any woman married and have a children, they family, they don’t let her go outside with herself. I just stay with my kids at home every time. You don’t like, I can’t explain that. But I feel like I’m just in prison. Because, you know, you can’t do nothing when you’re in Sudan with no husband. You can’t do nothing. Because we have a tradition in like not good with some woman just her husband go and they going out on a fun day or we can’t do that. It’s not good to go by yourself. It’s not good to do that. I just feel like I’m in a prison. Yeah.

How has COVID-19 or corona affected you and your family?
Oh my god, that COVID-19 affected me a lot because first thing, I don’t like to stay at home. I don’t like that. Seeing you makes me crazy. You make me like I’m gonna die.You make me like, you know I have big stress. I can’t talk with my kids. I can’t talk with my husband. I feel like I need to do nothing. Not clean, not cooking, nothing. If I stay on the sofa, I like to do nothing. I have a bad time, especially when my kids in at home. They can’t do exercise or do an activity. They just setting in TV playing Xbox. I hate that one. I hate it. They make my children aggressive. And I can’t let them just close it or go. I have yeah, I have a timetable just to tell them to go only 2 or 3 hours, but it’s so difficult, you know? When they doing nothing. Yeah, it affect me a lot. Me, my children, and my husband.

If I can ask about your past when you are in your country. Why did you leave your country?
I left my country because, I told you before, my husband came to the UK. I can’t sit back with my family for a long time. We should just join my husband. That’s the reason I came in the UK. Because I have, my husband have a visa, like a family reunion to join my husband. And yeah, I came to my husband. That’s the reason I left my country.

How did that make you feel when you left for Europe from your country?
Yeah, when I left my country, at first, I’m just very happy to go and have a new experience, to meet my husband. You know, I’m very happy in the beginning. But trust me, the first month and the second month, I feel very bad. But the beginning, yeah, I’m very happy to came to the UK. Everybody’s just talking about England and I just need to see what’s going on in there. Yeah.

How was the journey to Europe? How you came or were there any experiences in your way when you came?
No, I came to Europe with an airplane. It’s very easy, the journey, because like what I told you. I came family reunion to join my husband. I have a visa and I have a passport. I came just like, yeah, with the luxury like with an airplane.

From Sudan to?
From Sudan to Egypt. And then from Egypt to England. Like from Sudan to Egypt, it took three hours. And then from Egypt to England, it took like five hours. It’s easy and nice, yeah.

Could you ever imagine that you would have been able to handle this situation when you came? What are you feeling or what are you thinking about while you came here? For example, what are you thinking about when you are in an airplane? What did you imagine that England was going to be like, look like?
Yeah, just, you know, I’m happy. I’m excited to just go to England. And so a lot of nice, different things. And I liked England when I came. I like the green view, the houses, the weather as well. I like it. Yeah. But I don’t like about England is just routine. Like a routine every day- like day, like week, like month. That’s the thing I don’t like. But everything about it, I like it. Yeah.

What’s your challenge here?
You know, to be honest, my challenge is sometimes I feel confused because I have a lot of things to do. And I need to do that. And then I stop. I go to another one. Because you know, you have a lot of, eh, What do you call it? 

We can say it’s a lot of opportunities here.
Yeah, a lot of choice. You can do it. Yeah. It’s a little bit different and difficult because you can’t, it’s difficult because my language…Sometimes I feel that, I feel my language, my English language is not good enough to have my dream. Like I need to do something, you know? I love to do health and social care, but high quali- level education, because I love to work with old people. I love, I wish to do that. I wish to work with old people. I saw them every time and I feel bad for them. They don’t have children around or they just yeah, I see that I need to help them, to do everything. In my religion, your dad or mom, you can’t leave home alone. They need to stay with the family. They need to help them when they’re getting old. They need to do everything. They do it when you’re baby, you know? When you’re just young. They do a lot of things for us and they need to go give it back to them when they getting older. But in here, it’s not. That’s the reason I need to help them.

Yeah, and what about your strengths? Your strengths or good points in you or how you describe yourself? Who you are?
Yeah, I describe myself, um, you know, I’m different to the Misaa back home, when she was in Sudan to Misaa in England, It’s a big big big difference.

In which way?
You know, in any way. Like, eh, I can’t explain that. But you know, in Sudan, women don’t have any… Maybe now, but when I left Sudan, you know, a woman, just when they get married, they don’t have nothing, just stay at home-clean, washing, cooking. That’s it. Do nothing. But in here, I feel equal with my husband. In Sudan, no. But in here no, in here it’s different. I can talk. I can say my opinion. My, you know, everything. I can say no. But in Sudan, you can’t do that. You can’t say no to everything, especially when you get married. And yeah, especially because you know, I just married when I was 18 years old. And I don’t like it. But yeah, it happened. Yeah.

And what about your dream when you were in Sudan?
I told you, I don’t have any dream. I don’t have any dream in Sudan.

I just married very young and I have children straightaway. In Sudan, just like when you’re married you need to stay at home to look after your children, to look after your husband. And that’s it. Your husband goes to work, you stay at home, just do everything, clean, that’s it. You do nothing. Nothing. I don’t have any dreams in Sudan.

Then what about your dream here?
I have a lot of dreams.

Can you recount for us your dreams?
Yeah. First, I love to go around the country. I love to go to France, Spain. I need to see different things because England opened my eyes to see the world as different and nice and you can do everything. And I don’t care with about my age because I’m getting just old. Yeah, and the next dream, I need to do the health and social care to work with old people. That’s my dream as well. And my dream as well, I need to help people in my country. That one, I started already. I just went to Sudan last February. And I took a lot of clothes with me. And I just give them to the people who don’t have any clothes. Because in Sudan, we have very poor people. Very poor, like they don’t have clothes. They don’t have foods. They don’t have…. And I like to do that. Every time I go to Sudan, just I took a lot of stuff with me because I feel very bad when I saw people without nothing. I feel very bad. And I need to do that one. But the bigger thing, I don’t know how but I’m gonna I’m gonna, I’m gonna make it in the future.

It’s like you have an organization.
Maybe, yeah, maybe. Yeah. Maybe., I’m gonna do it over there.

That’s good. Okay. There’s one thing I want to ask you. Is there anything you would like to add that might help people in Europe better understand the life of a refugee? What you have advice or what you message for the European people to understand a refugee’s life here? What do you want to tell them?
Okay, I want to tell them…First thing, we have a lot of refugees. We have a good, you know, high education and good experience. But they, you know, but that’s a bad thing. When the refugees come in England, they can do nothing without pass the GCSE or something like that.

Yeah, GCSE.
A lot of people like are doctors and engineers, I know them, you know? Pharmacy, accountants, a lot of them. They just have this certificate, but they can’t do nothing without they going to college, doing the GSCE. And the GCSE is very very very difficult to them to just pass it. And yeah, I feel very bad for them. They need something, you know to just equal to our certificate when they do it. I need them to just open our, their eyes and see the refugees just stuck in this point. Yeah, they’re stuck in this point.

That’s good, thank you for your time.
Thank you very much.

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.