About Refugees, By Refugees

Portrait of refugee Mohamadali with his son

Mohamadali Faqiri

Pictures taken in:



Photo and interview by:




Zahra Mojahed

“To have a comfortable life in the future. Only this,” says Mohamad (pseud, 31) when asked what his dream is. In Afghanistan, he says, “we were under threat… we were afraid and horrified.” To escape that fear, Mohamad traveled with his wife and then six-month old son through Iran and Turkey before landing in Greece where they live in a refugee camp. “There are arguments and fights every night,” he says. “The situation in the camp is hard.” When his wife got sick, she was sent to Germany for treatment. Without her there, he says he cannot work because he must care for his son. He says his son has “no other concern except… to go to his mother.” He says that the experience of traveling to, and living in, Greece “has affected both my body and my mind.” He says, “our mental health has gotten worse” and that “we don’t have a happy life,” but describes how he copes with an aphorism: “‘the land is rigid and the sky is high’…we have to tolerate it.”

Trigger Warning:

full interview

Please introduce yourself?
Ok, my name is Mohammad Ali.

How old are you and where are you from?
I am 32 years old.

Are you from Afghanistan?
I am from Behsood, Maidan Wardak province, Afghanistan.

Where do you live?
We are in Athens, in Eleonas camp.

Who do you live with?
I live with my son.

How old is your son?
My son is two years and eight months old.

Where is your wife?
My wife has gone to Germany.

How is the situation in the camp?
The situation in the camp is hard, it has gotten worse.

No one cares about us and it has gotten crowded. There are arguments and fights every night.

What do you do every day and how do you spend your time?
I am free every day, taking care of name redacted.

You take care of name redacted?

You don’t go to work?
No. I can’t work.

What makes you become happy or enjoy your life?
My concern is … I have no other concern except to go and reach and get together with his mother. To go to his mother. Because name redacted is bothering me for his mother. His mother is sick there.

How has your life been from the time you reached Europe? What is good about it and what difficulties did you have?
Talking about difficulties and miseries, we have encountered a lot of hardships in Moria and the same here.

Can you repeat how your life has been from the time you came to Europe?
My previous life?

No, your current life from the time you reached Greece. When you reached Europe, how has your life been so far? What good points did it have and what bad points did it have?
It has no good point and we are just worried about what will happen to our future and what will not happen. We don’t have a happy life.

How does living here make you feel?
The situation … well … has kept us busy with our life. It is all about worries and things like that.

Now, from the time your wife has gone, how could you tolerate the conditions? How did you feel?
Well, I experienced a hard condition.

Is it very hard?

Have you ever thought about being in such a situation before? And be able to control it?
It is sometimes out of control and one can … sometimes it gets better.

Have you ever thought before you would be able to tolerate such a situation?
Well, it is the condition and we have to cope with it. What else can we do about it?

How could you cope with it?
We should tolerate it, we have to.

Do you think the difficulties that you have and struggle with now have improved your strengths and skills? Have these problems changed you?
Well, … it is hard, God knows.

Can you elaborate? Has it gotten better or has it gotten worse from every aspect?
No, it has not gotten better. Our mental health has gotten worse.

How has Covid-19 affected your daily life and your emotions?
Well, we don’t get enough sleep at night. There is a lot of noise until 3:30 to 4 o’clock and I can’t go to sleep. We sleep until 2:00 o’clock during the day and after that, I am busy with … I am busy. It is hard.

Is that because of Corona? I am talking about Corona and how has it affected your life?
Well, corona. Thank God it is good. We haven’t got Corona. Thank God.

From the time Corona has started, how has it affected you? Like the quarantine?
Quarantine, No. Because I have a little son, I used to go out rarely before and it is the same now. I go out once a week, twice or three times a month.

When there was quarantine, did you continue going out?

So you didn’t have stress and didn’t get sick?
No, thank God, No.

Weren’t you afraid anything might happen to you? Since you are living in a camp.
No. Thank God, No. We were in the camp but we were not going out that much.

You were always in your room?
Yes, in my room.

Now I want to ask about the past. Why did you leave your country? What happened? Can you explain?
Our country, … we were under threat, had an enemy, that is why we came here. We went to Iran and Iran was not giving any documents and we did not have documents, they would deport us. That is all.

When you think about the time you were in Afghanistan and the times you were under threat, how do you feel?
Well, we were afraid and horrified. That is why we came here.

You were feeling terrified? Can you explain your trip to Europe? What kind of difficulties did you face and what happened to you? Can you explain it?

The Trip that you started from Afghanistan and the way that you came. Can you explain the smuggling road that you came with?
Hardships, we faced a lot of hardships.

How many days were you on the way from Afghanistan to Iran and how did you come?
From Afghanistan, we came with a passport.

You came with a passport?
Yes, we came with a passport.

How did you come from Iran to Turkey?
We came through smugglers and paid for the smugglers twice to come to Turkey.

You came twice?

Did the police catch you the first time?
No, the police did not catch us. A car took us to another place and from there, we took a smuggler and he transferred us.

It means you paid them twice?
Yes, twice.

Was your son there that time?
Yes. my son was, I think, six months old at that time.

Wasn’t it hard for you to carry a six-month old baby?
It was very hard.

Did you stay in Turkey or not?
We stayed in Turkey for six months.

You lived in Turkey for six months, how was the condition there?
Turkey’s condition, well, I used to work for a company which didn’t pay me for my work.

Which company was it?
A company where we would wax and weld chairs, I was working there.

They didn’t give you your money?
No. I worked there for three months and they didn’t pay me for the whole three months.

Then you came to Greece?
We came to Greece.

How did you come by sea?
We came by sea. It was good. We had a good trip by sea and came by one game.

Did you come with an inflatable boat?

How many people were there in the boat?
I don’t remember whether it was 35 or 38 people.

How was the condition when you reached Moria?
It was hard in Moria. There were fights during the nights and the food was not enough.

How was it for Amir Ali that time? Wasn’t he bothered?
He was very much bothered.

When you think about the way that you came through, how do you feel about that time?
Now that I think about that trip?

One is terrified. It was very dangerous.

Do you mostly think about the incidents that happened to you during this trip?

When do you mostly think about them and what makes you think about them?
I just want … Well, her mother has gone to Germany. She is in Germany and she is missing him, she is sick. That is why we want to go there by land. I am terrified and cannot go. Because those hardships come into my mind.

And are you planning to go to Germany through smuggling?
Yes, what can I do? I have to.

Isn’t it hard?
It is hard. It is hard and the weather is getting cold.

When you think about those roads, how do you feel? When you remember those memories.
Well, I give up going.

Do you feel afraid?

The situation that you are in now, how has it affected your life?
It has affected me very much.

How has it affected your body and your mind?
It has affected both my body and my mind.

Did you have a morale problem?

Can you elaborate?
It is enough. (laughter)

There are some more questions.
I can’t answer.

There will be easier questions. would you even think to be able to tolerate the hardships of this smuggling way that you came by? And be able to control the situation?
We have to tolerate and control it. Nothing can be done.

How have you tolerated it until now? What made you continue? What did you do to forget the bitterness of those memories a little bit?
It is because … we have to tolerate and have no other choice. As it has been said “the land is rigid and the sky is high”. That’s it and we have to tolerate it.

Did you find anywhere to help you and support you?
No, they are of no use. They don’t help. They have brought this many people under the tents in the sun. People have nothing.

Before you decided to leave your country, like decided to take this trip, what was your dream for the future at that time?
We had no way, this is the only way.

No, what was your wish for the future? The time you were in Afghanistan and wanted to come here?
In Afghanistan, we did nothing, we were doing our work. Thank God I had everything.

What was your dream for the future? What do you wish to do in the future?
To have a comfortable life in the future. Only this.

We are only left with some questions. Just complete it. You only need to repeat it.
It is enough.

There are some questions and you need to answer them.
I don’t think there are only a few questions.

When you were on your way, what was your dream for your future at that time?
Well, sometimes, we would get hopeless, it is this way and when hopelessness comes, we feel like we might be deported and sometimes, we might think that we will be able to endure it.

That time you only wanted to reach here safely?
Yes, to reach here safely.

This trip that you came and the hardships that you encountered, was it any good for you? Has it created anything good in you?

Was it only the hardships?
Yes, it was all misery..

Now that you are here, what is your dream for your future?
For the future, to go and find our future… To go and be with his mother. That’s it.

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.