About Refugees, By Refugees

Portrait of Refugee Morty Rhmy with a mask

Morty Rhmy

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Greece

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Zahra Mojahed

So my dream was and is to become a politician to help my country so the young people like me don’t suffer the way I suffer,” says Morty Rhmy (pseud, 20). Because of his father’s politics, Rhmy’s family was forced to flee to Europe, a journey that saw them living in a tent for 40 days on the Greek island of Samos. “That breaks my confidence,” he says when remembering the suffering his mother and siblings faced during the trip. “That’s the worst moment of my life.” Now, despite being registered at a refugee camp, Rhmy spend most of his time with his cousin who lives in Athens. “It’s like a prison, but with open doors,” he says of the conditions at the camp. When quarantine began, Rhmy became depressed. “I wanted to hurt myself,” he explains. But soon, he got a volunteer position as a journalist and photographer for a magazine. The work brings him joy. “There are many millions like me to change this. And that’s the dream. And we will do it.”

Trigger Warning:

full interview

And please introduce yourself.
I am Morty Rhmy

(unclear)
Yes, and I’m in Greece right now. I am a journalist and photographer. I write on a magazine and website. I’m 20 years old and I’m studying also journalism and commerce.

What kind of housing do you live in?
I mostly live with my cousin in Pagrati area in Athens, but I am registered in the refugee camps Schisto.

Can you describe the conditions?
The condition of refugee camp?

Yes.
OK, yes. Let’s go to the camp. Well, actually, first of all, camp is not a place for someone to live in. It’s like a prison, but with open doors. Besides, I really don’t like camps to be for people to live inside. And the conditions of every camp, you know, is not good, even though they say it is good, but it’s not.

And who do you live with?
I live with my mother and my younger brother.

How do you spend your time here? Do you work?
Technically? Yes, I do work voluntarily. I am a journalist and photographer for the magazine.

OK, what are some of the things that bring you joy?
OK, a difficult one, but ok. I like photography. I take pictures. I’m a social person. I like to meet new people like yourself. And I like to write because I’m very politically active person and I am a child, children activist. Uh, yes, these are the things that bring me joy.

OK, how I’ve been since you arrived in Europe. What’s been good about being here? What’s been difficult?
OK, let’s start with the difficult ones. Well, you know, the refugee conditions here. For me, it’s like since I am educated, I’m studying. And when I see other people’s suffering, they’re suffering for their asylum. They’re suffering for lawyers, for jobs, from language, which is really difficult. And it hurts when you see your own people suffering. It’s bad and I am doing my best to help them. Besides, the difficult part for me is the language that I’m trying to learn, which is very difficult besides the other things. And let’s go to the good part. The good part is that Greece has offered me many things, such as food to eat, a roof to live and education. So yes, these are the good things. Now I’m studying and I’m technically working. These are the good things.

But can you describe how living here has made you feel?
Feel what?

About living here, living.
OK, living here, which ones? OK, well, to be honest, I want to be here forever. Well, for some people, it’s like they don’t believe me, but actually I do. I, everyone is not the same. And I want to be in Greece because as I earlier said, they’ve offered me everything. And I think it’s better than to live in other countries like Afghanistan or Iran or others.

Would you ever have imagined that you would have been able to handle this situation?
OK.

Like living in camp?
Yes, as I mentioned earlier, again, that camps are not something that people should live in. It’s like a human zoo instead of animals, they are human beings. And I don’t think so. We all deserve to live inside the camps. That’s why I’m living with my cousin there, because it’s closer. Every camp in in Athens or been beside Athens and other cities are far from the city. It takes me like four or three hours to come to the main center. So, yeah, I think my opinions to every refugee should live in the apartments on, in Athens, in the city.

And do you think that you developed the ability to deal with these challenges or do you think you always had those skills, strengths, mechanisms?
And, well, yes I come from a very strong family. We have a political blood and yes, I can I know how to deal with it and I know my rights. Since you know your rights, you can deal with anything or you don’t need any strength or something like this to fight for your own right so now.

How has COVID-19 affected you in terms of daily life and your mood, feeling, emotional wellbeing?
Well, in the beginning of quarantines that we were in national quarantine, it was really difficult for me to deal with it because it was depressing. I wanted to hurt myself, but slowly, slowly, I get involved with many seminars online with my online lessons. Plus I join art lessons and everything online. So, yeah, I got distracted and that really affected everyone’s life. And not just me,

Bout your past. And what did you leave your country? Can you describe that happens?
Well, we’re a we’re political immigrants, refugees. And that’s why because of political reasons, we left the country.

OK, how did that make you feel at the time?
Well, I’m really happy because I never like my country. No offense, but never.

How was the journey to Europe? Is there an experience that was particularly difficult that you could tell us about?
Well, yes. The only difficult part was when I arrived in Samos. It was the only 40 days on 2017 December, we arrived on the 10th of December in island Samos. That was the only difficult journey of my life that I had because we knew we had to stay under the tent for 40 days and we had to, we had to eat the cold food. And the condition was very terrible. And the weather was so cold. It wasn’t good, really. It wasn’t good.

About the sea?
About the sea? No, actually, we we came differently. We came in a big ship that stopped in Samos and we were inside the ship, so. Yeah.

What do you feel when, how did that make you feel at the time? When you were on the way.
Well, it wasn’t good, really. I don’t want to talk about it, it was so stressful.

You have a good trip?
I don’t think so, but I…

Do think that this event often- this event on the way? This question is about your journey?
Well, yes, I only think about my journey that was Samos. I explained earlier, it wasn’t good. That’s the only part that always break me up for being there. It wasn’t good because I saw my cats  suffering because I bring my cats with me. And the difficult part was to see one of them died. Their babies, actually, all of their babies died and she gave birth on a ship. So their babies died. And I saw my mom suffering. She is, you know, old, not that old, but old, you know, mother’s age. And my sister and my younger brother suffering. And that was the most difficult part for me. Nothing else.

What do you feel when you think about that?
That breaks me down that I stress because that reminds me that who am I, you know, that will be with me forever. Like, forever if I die, it will be with me because that makes me who am I right now? So that will be stick with me forever. I will tell about that to my children.

Does the situation you faced affect you today?
Yes. And how. Yes, because I mentioned earlier it was connected with this question, actually. Yes. Because whenever I remember that moment that breaks me down, I remember who am I exactly. That breaks my confidence. That breaks everything about me that. That’s the worst moment of my life that I will never forget in my whole life.

Could you ever have imagined that you would have been able to handle that situation?
Yes, we handled it because that’s why we are here. I handled the situation.

How were you able to get through it? And have you created any kind of a strategy, coping mechanism to get through the hard times, difficult memories?
We actually no because sometimes you have to remember those bad memories to get the strength, because when I get, that breaks my confidence whenever I think about it. But then I realize after that. It’s not some, it’s something that will stick with me forever. I mentioned earlier and I this, I don’t want to forget about it because it breaks me and also give me strength to go because we want to do something in the future for our next generation. Don’t face something like that.

Where do you find your strength and support?
Well, first of all, my family?

No, for your difficult memory or something, hard times?
Support?

Yes.
Well, by writing I remember I said I write, I write and describe my feelings on my writing

But you never talk with psychologist?
Ah not really because I know how to cope with it. So I don’t really need a psychologist.

OK, before that event that led you to flee home occurred, what was your dream before then? So  use “my dream was”.
Umm… I have to add some things that are going through my dream. Well, first of all, I wasn’t in my country at all. I was traveling around to many different Asian countries around Afghanistan, Iran and all these countries, many of them. But I never felt like home and I knew that I will I won’t be staying there. The only dream was to end up in Europe for sure, because of the difficulties we have faced, because of my father’s job, he was politically stuff. So that’s how I always knew that we will end up in one of the European countries for sure. Germany, maybe. I never knew that I will end up in Greece. So my dream was and is to become a politician to to help my country so the young people like me don’t suffer the way I suffer, the way that other young people suffer nowadays, that they come the way by the horrible boat, they cross the Turkish-Greece border, they end up in the islands and they have to suffer inside the tent. That’s not humanity. I want to change this thing, not just me. There are many millions like me to change this. And that’s the dream. And we will do it.

Good. When you, uh, you were leaving your home, what was your dream for the future?
Well, I said my dream was to become a politician and help my country and in every way possible. Even though it’s, I am in Greece and I’m helping many, many and I’m offering my education to many young people here, I’m telling them about feminism, about everything that is happening. Because the first thing a male should teach another male is feminism- to respect women, because in my country there is no respect for women. Even in Greece, they come to Greece. They have this mentality that they treat women like a slave, which I am against. So I want to change that, too. If I cannot do it in my country, at least I can change those minds that are living in Greece from my country.

Before leaving your home country, what would you describe as your strengths?
I never, well, I mentioned earlier that I never knew that I was ending up in Greece and traveling as I was born traveling. So we traveled a lot. So nothing there was nothing.

Why?
Because we were traveling a lot and I knew how traveling feels like. So there was nothing. And I never knew that I will end up in Greece and I would like Greece. And I did. Now I’m in Greece.

Good, what you’ve been through seems really difficult to feel like you have grown in any way as a result of this experience or has anything at all positive come out of it?
Well the positive thing that I am a journalist and a photographer that not famous, but yes, my photos are publishing and exhibiting in London next month.

Very good!
Yes. So that’s the positive thing. Look, I am doing I’m writing a magazine and a website, taking pictures. What else is positive?

And what are your what are your hopes and dreams for the future? Now, before you answer, should use my dream is…
Well, my dream is to become a good politician, a good activist, a good brother, a good son, a good feminist to always support women and a good person, first of all. Because I I believe in peace. So, yes, that’s the dream.

Really appreciate your answering all this question, is there anything you would like to add that might be a help in Europe, people in Europe better understand the life of a refugee here.
Well, they always mentioned yes, I would add that they always mention the refugee crisis, refugee crisis, why we are crisis. We are not crises because of us there are many, many locals have jobs because of us. Many, many got jobs during this pandemic, because of this coronavirus, people were inside their homes jobless. But a lot of them that who were working for refugees had their jobs. So that’s something that everyone should know. We are there. We are not crisis. We are a positive sign to every country we visit because they always, I know many people that work for less than money than Greek works. For example, this guy was working in a shoe shop. His colleague was getting like, like something, I don’t know, 800, and he was getting like 400. So see, the difference? They are always treating us differently than they and they will always do. And that’s what we need to change. And everyone should know that we are not crisis. We are not a burden to anyone. And we don’t have, we don’t want war because if we wanted war, we could stay in our countries and do the war there. Why should we come in such a country to start a war? We don’t want war. We don’t we just want to finish this thing that they have in their minds that refugees are crisis. We are not.

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.