About Refugees, By Refugees

Portrait of refugee Nafas turned sideways hiding their face with a green tree background

Nafas Ashouri

Pictures taken in:



Photo and interview by:

Bosnia and Herzegovina



Hasan Mohammedi

“Goodness, a better life, happiness,” is what Nafas Ashouri (23) dreams of for her future. She and her family came to Europe in 2017, fleeing conflict in Afghanistan. They now live in a refugee camp in Sarajevo. Nafas often remembers their “terrible” journey via Greece, where she says the police “beat my husband and son as well. They took our stuff from our hands and even forced my husband to go back to Turkey.” The experience left her with “a bitter feeling”. At other points on the journey, she recalls, “we walked barefoot. The situation was very bad. Our feet swelled. We even didn’t have any food to eat.” But it was “hope to live” and the idea of better days to come that gave her the strength to carry on. Now, Nafas hopes that people in her host country will “see us as refugees. To pass from us and leave us alone.” Despite the bad memories and difficult conditions, she finds happiness in “going outside, touring, and being with the family” and has “hopes to have a better life”.

Trigger Warning:

full interview

Hello, hope you are having a good time. Thank you for your time for this interview.
Hello and hope you are doing well. (Interviewer interrupts: Thank You). I thank you.

Can I ask you what type of accommodation you currently live in?
For now, we are in a camp in Bosnia and live in a 6–7-meter room.

Could you describe the conditions?
Conditions… uhh … The foods are more or less good but the bathroom and washroom are terrible. They don’t even take care of the bathroom and washroom. Then with this condition, it is very difficult.

Who are you living with?
Me, with family.

How do you spend your time here?
With other refugees, with friends.

Do you also work?

What is the cause of your happiness?
Going outside, touring, and being with the family.

Ever since you entered Europe, how has your life been?
Sometimes it was good, sometimes it was bad. Generally, the days that passed were really difficult.

What was the benefit of you staying here?
Being here …… experience and …

What was difficult for you?
(Long pause)

If there’s a question that you can’t answer, we can move on to the next.

Can you explain how living here has made you feel?
Living…. Homelessness, difficult days.

How do you feel being away from home or family members?

How have these days affected you? Did it affect you?
A really bad feeling, homesickness, then we remember the difficult days. (Interviewer: Right.)

Did you ever imagine coping with this condition?

How were you able to cope with it or live through it?
Next question.

Do you think you have the ability to overcome these challenges or do you think you had strengths or mechanisms to cope with these issues?

Can you explain?
Our goal was to reach our needs, in hopes of living the way we want.

How has Covid-19 affected you in your daily life?

Alright, okay, thank you. May I ask some questions regarding your past?

Why did you leave the country?
Next question.

Can you explain what happened after you left your country?
Because of my child, because of my living, not a good condition.

How did you feel at that time?
Really bad.

How was the journey to Europe?

Did you have any specifically difficult experiences that you can tell us?
The difficulty of the route (Interviewer interrupts: Yes). Honestly, it was really bad en route to Greece, their police were really bad, and they used to beat us. They beat my husband and son as well. They took our stuff from our hands and even forced my husband to go back to Turkey. (Interviewer interrupts: Like did they deport?) Yes, they deported him. It was really bad.

How did you feel at that time?
A really bad feeling.

Do you often think of these incidents that happened?
Yes. (Interviewer interrupts: When?) A lot. (Interviewer interrupts: When?) Always.

Is there anything specific that you think about often?
Something specific …. The difficult days that we faced, we remember them, the difficulty we faced en route to Greece, in general.

How do you feel when you think of these, what feeling do you get?
A bitter feeling.

Has the condition that you faced had an impact on you?

The way that we came, the difficulty of the route (Interviewer: Okay) then we walked barefoot. The situation was very bad. Our feet swelled. We even didn’t have any food to eat.

So, it has had a lot of bad impacts on you, you feel depressed and sad a lot.
Really bad.

Have you ever imagined of managing those situations?

Do you think you can overcome these challenges or do you think you had the skills, strength, mechanism, and ability? From where did you get or find the strength and support?
Hope to live.

What was your dream before the incident that led to you running away from your country?
To reach the destination and have a better life.

Can you say it in this way “My dream was to reach the destination or have a better life”, if possible, start with “My dream was”?
Next question.

When you were leaving your home, what hopes or dreams do you have now for the future?
Good wishes both for myself and my family, then the difficult days that we had. Those days we thought to have better days.

Before leaving your country, what do you describe as your strength?
Next question.

What you experienced seemed really difficult. Do you feel that these experiences have led to your improvement in any way or resulted in something positive in your life?

What hopes or dreams do you have now for the future?
Goodness, a better life, happiness.

Can you describe one of your dreams? For example, “I have the dream for my family to have peace and prosperity”, if possible, reply with “My dream is”.
In hopes to have a better life.

Thank you for your answering the questions. Is there anything you’d like to add so that it helps the European people to understand the life of refugees in Europe?
The people of Europe don’t see us as refugees. (Interviewer: okay) They see us as immigrants (the European people, okay). I hope for them to see us as refugees (Interviewer: okay). To pass from us and leave us alone.

Thank you. Thank you. We took your time. Goodbye for now.
Thank you so much.

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.