About Refugees, By Refugees

Mr Green

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I just want to live a normal life… not being afraid of being outside in the streets.” Mr Green (pseud, 25) lives in Germany. He left his home country due to lack of “freedom of life” and discrimination against the LGBTQ community: “It is forbidden from law, and also it’s not acceptable socially.” To get to Europe he says “I made it through some bad situations and avoiding getting caught and running in front of the police… being hungry in the top of the mountain where it’s like, it’s cold.” He often thinks about the journey, “like it just happened yesterday.” His childhood dream was to come to Germany but it hasn’t been as he expected. He says he’s experienced racism and often feels “insecure… walking out, down streets like, I feel like I have to have two eyes in my back.” He copes by “avoid those stuff” and by “trying to not get upset or grumpy about it.” He’s found “nice friendships” and safe queer spaces in Germany, but, he says, “I don’t really feel like belonging to this place.”

Trigger Warning:

full interview

So, what kind of housing do you live in?
Um, I was living in Wagenplatz and now I’m living in a house project in a feminist community. 

Can you describe the conditions?
Um, the conditions are not that perfect. And I also, it’s not like 100% a comfortable environment for me, and I have to leave soon from it. Um, and besides that, it’s really, uh, I would say, uh, it’s really a nice place where everyone is like in solidarity and, uh, care and share in everything. Yeah. 

And who do you live with? With your friends or?
I was introduced to this place by a friend of mine and I didn’t know the, the other people before, but I get to know a few of them. 

And, um, how do you spend your time there?
How I spend my time in the house, I like more often, I’m hanging out in the kitchen, cooking, reading or writing, because I’m writing my biography and all that stuff. And yeah, I like hanging out in the kitchen more than my room. 

Do you work at the moment?
No, I don’t have a job yet. 

And can you tell what are some of those things that brings you joy in life?
In life? What’s bringing me joy in life? Um, I feel, I feel good writing and late, I was playing chess for a long time, but lately I get the motivation again after, uh, watching the The Queens Gambit. Yeah. And also, I like walking; it’s makes me feel good. And, yeah, reading, watching documentaries, traveling. I dislike staying for a long, long time in one place. I like traveling and moving around, which is, which is complicated at the moment. I cannot move really freely. Yeah. 

Yeah. And how has life been since you arrived in Europe?
My life, um, since I arrived to Germany in particular, because I haven’t been in another country in Europe. My experience in Germany, it was kind of flimsy. Like I had a really nice network of friends and loved ones. But in the other hand, I experienced a lot of racism stuff, racism behaviors from people outside in the streets. And, um, and I dislike another point of Germany, which is the weather. It’s so cold. Um, yeah. I would say it was a nice experience and the concept of friends and having good support from them, money, housing, everything, everything that I need I get from friends. Um, yeah. And the other hand, there is a lot of bad experiences, sexual experiences, racism experiences. 

So this has been difficult for you?
It was really difficult. Yeah. And also arriving in the first lockdown, it wasn’t like a good timing for me. It was when I just arriving and then the whole life shut down and I wasn’t to be able to do anything or find the work to help myself or. Yeah, it was really difficult. 

And what has been good about being here except your friendships?
It was really nice being in Germany because actually it was my childhood dream to be in Germany, which is, which is, I accomplished that that dream. But it wasn’t as I expected it. The Dream Land. But it’s not. Actually I heard about this racism stuff, but, uh, but I didn’t expect it to be like in this intense and, uh, yeah. The good stuff that I really like the infrastructure and I really like the, um, how life is here comparing to, to the life in my home country.  And also I had like really nice dates and um. Yeah, there is a lot of stuff nice. Yeah. I cannot count them out all now because they are. 

And can you describe how living here has made you feel?
Um…  What’s your like true feelings about? True feelings, um, I will say like outside I feel actually, honestly, I feel insecure and uncomfortable walking out. Down streets like, I feel like I have to, to have two eyes in my back watching my back as a result of the fear of getting jumped or I don’t know. You know, you will never predict what people can do. Um, yeah, that’s really difficult for me. And I’m really avoiding, like all the unknown areas for me that I have no idea about. I cannot just cycle or walk there. I feel like I’m going to get some stuff. Um, yeah. So I feel good being in known places, safe places that I know friends places or like queer, um, LGBTQ communities, bars, uh, clubs or. Yeah. 

And how does being away from the rest of your family, from your home, make you feel?
Living away from my family now it’s really tough because I know that I cannot just pick up my backpack and take the train or bus or whatever to go to see them, because it’s really hard for me this way, like in a different in another country, another continent. But I was living away from my country, from my family, also in my home country, because I was working in another city and I couldn’t see them like every day or something because I had like one holiday in six months, two holidays a year, like for two weeks. Yeah, but this one is really, is really, really hard for me. I, I cannot imagine how it’s going to take me to see them again or I, I don’t know if I will be able to see them again. My father in critical health status. And I would, I would say my mom too. Yeah. It’s really, it’s really hard. 

And how does the feeling of discrimination here impact you? Do you feel belonging here or not belonging? And how does it make you feel?
Um, I feel like I’m. Sorry. Um, I feel like, um, discrimination in Germany. I don’t belong in, I don’t really feel like belonging to this place. I feel belonging to, to my friends hearts, but, to this country, and what I just saw from my experience and also hearing a lot of racism shared and I’m sorry. Um, yeah, that’s doesn’t make me feel comfortable at all or belong to just to this country. Excuse my language.

Could you ever have imagined that you would have been able to handle the situation?
Which situation? 

The situation right now you are in, which is hard for you, which you are like, you know. Like you are going through it, but could you ever have imagined before that you could go through it and you could handle it? Like when when you came to this country before, did you ever thought of it that it would be difficult, but I will go over it and, um. Did you have like a strategy or did you think of it? And now that you can go through it.
Um, my, I wouldn’t call it a strategy but like, just my, my way of handling this racism or this, this not just racism, a lot of stuff. I just avoid those stuff or, um, not, um, trying to not get upset or grumpy about it. For example, like just I give you an example for. Like being in, for example, in the train or the bus station. And because I don’t speak the language, then I had to ask, for example, just to get a ticket or something. And someone like give me like some strange look or strange comment or something. It’s like normally people get upset about it or just turn the their faces away. But for me, I would react to it by saying all of this strange language or look or something, I would say thank you. So that’s why I handled it. Or sometimes I just walk away now where the place is safe for me to walk and just think about something else or listen to music. And in the other hand, I will do anything and fight and organize and do what it has to be done to change the situation. Not just for me, but for all of those before me and all of those that come in after me. And I will really work on it and try to do what it has to be done. 

During this time, do you think that you developed some kind of ability to deal with these challenges, or do you think you always had this kind of ability or strength skill?
I actually, I don’t, I don’t think that I am, that I am strong or brave person. Have I really developed like and I learned a lot from, from different situations, from different people. And I see the work that they are doing, how organizing protest is and and how they are organizing stuff and trying to make a change. I had some ideas, but, uh, I would say that I still need to learn a lot about how to change it. It’s not really an easy thing to change or to fight. It’s like fighting an army with a baseball stick. And it’s it’s yeah, it’s need a lot of work and a lot of education and a lot of organizing stuff, um, and I’m trying to develop that skill. 

And how has COVID-19, Corona, affected you, your daily life, your mood, feelings, emotional well-being?
Um, Corona, Corona virus, it its, this pandemic it’s really changed and it really affects not just my life, but all of us, I would say. Um, my daily life is really completely changed. I haven’t been in sidewalks like and for this long period in my whole life. Now it’s really confusing and discouraging, doing a lot of stuff. Um, it’s it’s really hard. It’s really hard being inside and being, uh, locked in and not being able to do what you want to do. It’s really hard to come back to the normal life. And yeah. And we hope to this situation change soon. 

And now I will ask a couple of questions about your past. As I said, like you can just say, I don’t want to answer this question any time. Um, why did you leave your country?
Um, I, uh, I left my country because, because it’s, uh, it’s not a really healthy, uh, community to live in. And you cannot be, you cannot be yourself. You cannot do a lot of stuff. There is lack of knowledge, lack of freedom of speech, freedom of life. Um, so yeah discrimination against LGBTQ community. Uh, yeah. Um, and it’s it’s forbidden from law. And also it’s not acceptable socially. And also, I had a bad experience in military, and so that was also affect. My dad was also a big reason of leaving the country and I saw a lot of stuff that’s not, not most of the people see. Also, I didn’t achieve my dreams in in my country. I was studying English in the university, planning to be an English teacher, but that, that doesn’t work because of financial, uh, financial crisis. I didn’t have the money to continue my studies. And I was the only, the only, the first one between my siblings that I get a job. So I was like kind of responsibility older on my chip, on my shoulder that’s supporting my family. And that back then my, my father was not working anymore. So I had to support them financially. Yeah. So that’s, that’s those are like the, I would say, the most of the reasons that makes me leave the country. 

Mm hmm. And, uh, what was your feelings about it? How did you feel about this whole situation there that you had to leave?
Um. Of course, it wasn’t it, wasn’t it, wasn’t like, it wasn’t actually, I didn’t, I don’t, I didn’t like it even because I really don’t want to be away from my friends, from my, from, when I grow up, uh, from my family. Um, yeah. But I had to leave, so I really feel bad about it. And I really hope that it’s going to change there and yeah. It’s really hard, it’s really hard, it wasn’t, it wasn’t, it wasn’t like a desirable decision. 

And how was your journey to Europe? You can skip any questions any time you want.
How did I make it to Europe? Um, I may get to I maybe to Europe, like in the hard way. I went to Turkey and from there crossing more than ten borders in a really bad, bad conditions. I did this in the winter and you can imagine it was cold and yeah. And also the stress from being caught or beaten up or, um, your staff get taken away from you. It was a really stressful experience, stressful trip to Europe. 

How did that make you feel at the time?
At the time, it makes me feel like why, why should I do it this way? It makes me feel like why shall we not just me, but all of those people who are doing this? And it was years and years ago, and it’s happening now and it’s still be happening until the system changes or who knows. Yeah, so it makes me feel like why shall all of those people, not just me, suffer from systematic violence from them? Yeah. 

Do you think about these events or things like what you have been through?
Um, I don’t know if I am traumatized or not, but I still see those experiences. Sometimes like it just came out in front of my eyes and see where I was and, and how, how I made it through some, some bad situations and avoiding getting caught and running in front of the police and stuff. And being hungry in the top of the mountain where it’s like, it’s cold and yeah. Yeah, I, I still see that. Like, it’s, it’s like it just happened yesterday. 

And how do you feel about it when you think of it?
I say, I feel about, I say, I like how from where there’s all this energy that pushes me towards to go through that I’m really impressed of myself. 

Do you think the situation you faced affect you today?
Of course it affects me today these experiences. It’s really affects me a lot and it’s took a lot of energy and a lot of thinking. And yeah, of course it affects me a lot. And I would never, I would never wish to go through it again. Of course. 

And could you ever imagine that you would have been able to handle that situation? Like now that you have been through it, now it’s gone, but if you think of it like before, would you think that you could go over again? Would you be able to do it?
Like if I am back at the time and I didn’t do it, if, uh, if I would, if I would think about doing it right, um, I wouldn’t have a think about doing it. I will try to find another solution, which is I tried also to not do it before. So it’s, it’s the same. I was planning to get this student visa to Germany, but it was, it was hard to, to get this language diploma or certificate or something that proves that you can speak, that you are able to speak the language officially and to go to the university or to have any kind of studies. But I couldn’t because of financial, uh, problems. Also, I couldn’t go to the, to the school to study the language in

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because it’s, it’s I wasn’t, I didn’t find the school that I can learn German in my hometown. So I had to go, I have to go to another, to another city to study. So it’s going to be rent cost and the school cost and living cost. So it was really, really hard to get this language certificate. And also I was trying to get, to get a job like a job permit a visa for a job. But I couldn’t because also of the language barrier. Yeah. 

And, um. Before you had to leave your home country, what was your dreams?
Actually, after, after quitting the military, I, I didn’t think about coming to to Europe. Frankly, like immediately after quitting, I was, I was planning to, uh, to get, to get another job that I will feel comfortable and fine with it and being close to my family. But at some point, I just realized that I am facing a really horrible truth that I, I will never get the job that I want in

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. So I had to, I had to borrow some money to get to Turkey. And yeah, so at some point I realized that I have, I have no future in this country, so I have just to leave. 

And now I will ask wrap up questions to go over again. And first one is like, before leaving your home country, how would you describe your strengths? Like, um, have you maintained the strength, like dealing with stuff? 
Um, I will, I will, I will not say strengths or I was like strong or something doing it. Actually, I was desperate and I was really in a lose, lose situation. So I thought like what I’m going to lose anyway. So I just do it. That’s I wasn’t brave or strong or something. It was like when you are in the top of the mountain without food, without clothes and without anything, so you will just keep walking. 

And you feel like you have grown in any way as a result of this experience?
Of course. Of course, those experiences taught me a lot. Taught me how, how ugly the world is and how, how it’s, it makes me, it gives me the possibility to see a lot of stuff and experience a lot of stuff and know a lot of stuff about different countries, about different, um, uh, different politics, political political opinions in different countries and stuff. And I start reading and following the news in different areas and see how it’s really horrible all over the world, which is, I was kind of blind in my

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. I was just focusing on walking living and doing weird stuff and eating and sleeping. Now it’s somehow, that somehow I opened my eyes of seeing a lot of stuff and knowing a lot of stuff. Yeah. 

Anything positive came out of it?
It’s anything positive came out of these situations is um. Uh. Yeah, actually, this, uh, this, uh, learning a lot that, that’s actually a good thing and and also meeting and making really, really nice friendships, not with just German people or European people, but also from Arabic countries, from Syria, from Iraq, from a lot of places. That’s, that’s a positive thing about it. Yeah. 

And what are your hopes and dreams for the future now?
Um, my hope. My dream. My hope and my dream is, um. It’s easy. I just want to get, I just want to be able again to move around and travel freely. I was really, really hoping to, to get the chance to go to Spain to see my younger brother, which is, we didn’t see each other, like, for more than four years. Yeah. And I would like to get a truck and build it up and live in it and try and travel and work on, on some projects that I really want to work on, go for a really long trip and through Africa. And yeah. And I just want to live a normal, simple life and not being afraid of being outside in the streets and these all uncomfortable feelings and stuff. And I would like people to change their minds, which is not really easy to change your mind about, to change your picture of seeing a refugee or see an Arabic person. That’s, that’s really hard to change. But the only thing that, the only way to change that, that thing, is to interact with those people that you see different and also to educate yourself and see the to, uh, to sense of those people. Not just this picture of that, that you get from, from other people, maybe that they were mistaken or you heard in the news or. I don’t know. Yeah. 

OK, um, we really appreciate all of this from you. Now we are done. Thanks a lot. 

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.