About Refugees, By Refugees

Rafy Khan

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Photo and interview by:

United Kingdom



Bnar Sardar

Once upon a time it was I had a dream,” says Rafy Khan (38), a Bangladeshi asylum seeker living in the UK. “But now I can’t see and dream because… anything could be happen in my life.” Rafy came to the UK on a student visa in 2008. “I hoped it will be better for my future,” he says. Thirteen years later, his future remains uncertain. His student visa has expired, but he says he cannot return to Bangladesh for fear of reprisal for a loan he was unable to repay. “If I go back they will kill me… That is the hard reality.” Now living in Bristol, he says his legal status in the UK has affected his mental health. “Sometime it looks like me, I gonna kill myself… I can’t do anything because of my situation.” Still, he finds enjoyment in volunteering. “I can meet with lots of people. And when I meet them… I feel better.” Despite his ongoing struggles, he maintains hope for a better future. “I believe if I overcome this situation, I got back my status, maybe I’ll be able to see nice dream.”

Trigger Warning: Suicide

full interview

Uh, my name is Bnar. And right now, today, I came to make a story about you, if you don’t mind, you can just, um, interview sorry, introduce yourself for me.
Yes. My name is Rafy. Hmm. I come from Bangladesh. Um, I’m living in UK about 12 years now. 

Uh, how do you spend your time here?
Um, most of the time I spend my time here, uh, alone, uh, because for my status, I don’t have any work right. And my community people, they spend their time for working. So I don’t have any, uh, work right. So most of the time I spend alone, um, here just at peace. 

Uh, what are the some of the things that bring you joy here?
Um, sometimes I go for volunteer work and if I go there, I can meet with lots of people. And when I meet them, when I speak with them, this feel me good. I feel better. I’ve enjoyed to work with them. 

Mm hmm. How has life been since you arrived in Europe?
Um, to be honest, is, um, uh, it was a different life here from my country, um, especially weather. Uh, in my country weather is not very cold. But here weather is very cold. Um, and people are very busy here. And in my country, I can meet up with people everywhere. I can share my, uh, views with them as well. But in here, people look like very busy. So sometimes I can’t share my emotion with them as well. Yes. 

Yes. What’s been good about being here for you?
Um, there is a lot of good things here, um, especially the people. People are very good. They are not corrupted people. Uh, in compare of my country, I come from Bangladesh, uh, day by day, the people are getting corrupted, not only people but also the government. And so they are very corrupted. So, sometimes if anything happened with you, you can’t get, uh, right, um, uh, you can get justice from the court as well. Because if you support the current government, you can do whatever you like. You can steal money, you can rob, you can, uh, grab anything, rape women. So it’s lots of things can happen. Um, and if you give some money to the police, or court is nothing going to happen with you. This is the main, uh, problem in my country. And day by day, this is getting worse and worse. But in this country, in this is very good. You can get justice. You can get proper, um, you know, there’s not that much racism here. Actually, it’s not racism, is kind of corrupted people. That’s the main thing I can say. So in this case. So, uh, there is, uh, uh, um, you know, you can get some treatment as well, proper treatment from the if you feel any, uh, sickness or anything happen with you, you can get proper treatment from the hospital or from the GP. But in our country, now, it is very, very hard to get, uh, you know, uh, treatment from the hospital as well. So there is a lots of patience, but not enough, uh, in bed in the hospital. Also, some doctor, they work in a hospital, uh, the private, uh, the government job, but they don’t stay in the hospital. They they established their private hospital and they can earn money from them as well. So in this case, um, they are not devoted themselves for the people, for the patient. They try to make money for themselves. This, uh, you know, big difference from my country to here. 

Yeah. What’s been difficult?
Difficult in here? 

Yes. Um, the main difficulty in here is, uh, at the moment, I’m facing, uh, from my status. Because of my status, I can’t do anything. So if I got back my status, then I think everything will be, life will be very, very easy because, um, you can work whatever you like. There’s no, you know, shame to do any work. I think people here, they don’t mind which people doing which work. But in my country, uh, you may not get, uh, you know, you don’t get you can’t get, uh, um, proper job that you are looking for. Or, also, people sometimes they try not to do any, any job. But in this country, people don’t mind people. People can do any any job. So this is the mentality problem, I think. This is a huge change in this country.

Then can you describe, uh, how living here has made you feel?
Uh, sorry can you ask again, please? 

Can you describe how living here has made you feel? How you feeling?
Um, to be honest, I am living here for a long time now. I am feeling, um, this country, uh, this country as my own country. Because, uh, because I am able to cope with this culture and with these people. So first, um, uh, a couple of years will be really difficult for me. But now I am cooperate with people. I can understand them. And also, I am well familiar with this culture as well. So now I am not feeling lonely or, you know, difficult to live here because I am not quite used to with these people.

How does being away from the rest of your family?
Uh, to be honest, this is very, very hard because the family member is very, very important for one person. So, uh, it’s very hard to, uh, live a long time from outside of my family. 

How does being away from the rest of your family?
Um, to be honest, this is very, very hard to live without family for a long time. Um, when I come to here, I lost everything. I lost my father. I lost my mother. But I can’t ever to go and see them because for my difficulties. Um, this is this is really, really tough things for me. So, if I think those days, uh, uh, uh, about my mom requesting to see me, but I’m unable to go and see them, this is really, really hard. And also only the family member, they can, um, understand us truly. But, my situation, current situation, I, I have to, you know, agree this. I have to take this, uh, situation because I can’t do anything. I can’t go back my country at the moment, because, um, when I come back in this country, uh, I lent some money from my relatives, uh, but unfortunately, I’m not able to pay back their money. So that’s why, um, they threatened me. If I go back, they will kill me because I’ve got the money. That is the hard reality. So, uh, if I got back my status here, maybe I will be able to get my work right. And if I do work, then I can able to pay their money. Otherwise I can’t give back their money with the huge money. And, uh, in my country, I don’t have anything to do at the moment. And it’s very, very tough to get job in my country because every year lots people, hmm, they, uh, you know, they try to find a job, but they can’t. This is the huge problem in our country at the moment. 

How does the feeling of not belonging impact you?
It’s really affect on my mind, actually, because, um, sometimes I think about myself, I wasn’t like me. Like I was very, you know, I can think whatever I like, I can create something myself. But now I can’t do anymore because every time I’m thinking about my situation, um, my life, my future, that’s why my changing process, changing thought is everything is changed now. So, um, yes, it makes me a different person at the moment. 

Could you ever have imagined that you would have been able to handle this situation?
I don’t know. Actually, I don’t know how to handle it. So now at the moment, I can’t think anything. What’s gonna happen? Sometime it looks like me, I gonna kill myself. Sometime, I think, um, there’s no point to, uh, you know, live in the world anymore because, uh, what I am doing? I can’t do anything because of my situation. So, um, and, you know, sometime I don’t know how it gonna happen. So anything could be happening any time. I don’t know. 

What’s your challenge in your country?
Um, as I told you earlier, they are lots of challenges at the moment in, uh, in my country. It’s divided, getting worse and worse. It’s not like, um, you know, every people, they feel good about their country. But, uh, unfortunately, I can’t think a good thing about my country at the moment because of the corruption of my, uh, country people. You know, recently, sometime, uh, some people go back their country, uh, for visiting for a month or so. Uh, do you know what happened that time? The local people, local people, they think, oh, this man come from, uh, abroad, he come from the UK or Middle Eastern country, then they think maybe he got lots of money with him and somehow they tried to capture their money. It could be steal. It could be robbery. Sometimes they threaten, uh, if you give me some money, uh, otherwise I’ll kill you. Kill you. These things happen nowadays. Also, another things happen. They try to hijack the, uh, children and ask for money. If you don’t give me the money, then I don’t get, you know, I will kill your son or daughter. This thing happened. That’s why, I, I can’t think anything positive from the country at the moment. Corruption is everywhere. 

And what about your challenge in here?
Um, comparatively? Uh, only the mention is about at the moment is my status because of my status, I couldn’t, uh, got any job, any work. So, if I got back my status, then I handed my life my you know, nicely. Because I’m, uh, pretty much confident about myself that I could, I’m cope with this familiar, with this situation, with this environment. So now, uh, I’ll be able to handle it. So actually, now I’m thinking this is my first time at the moment because in that situation and my country is much more different. It’s not now anymore like before. That’s why I’m just confident about this country. 

And what about your strength point?
My strength point? Uh, my strength point is my honesty, I think. So honesty is the best policy, so I try to keep honest with everybody and anyone can success if they are honest. So in this case, if I meet with people and they love me because of my honesty. 

Then if I can ask you about your past, why did you leave your country?
Um, I finished my graduation in my country. Then I come here for my higher study. So, um, I supposed to go back to my country when I finish my course and I will serve my country. So definitely I come here for my better, better future. But unfortunately, when I come back here, I couldn’t finish my study because I lost my parents. And that’s why, um, they are not, they, you know, and they stuck me for my tuition fee or something like that because, you know, you have to spend lots of money for the study purpose. And then, when I lost my parents, I lost my track. Actually mentally affect me. I couldn’t run my college. Also, you know, a lot of things happening. That’s why,  you know, I know I lost my track from this study. 

How did that make you feel at the time when you leaved your country?
Sorry, can you say again, please? 

How did that make you feel at the time?
At that time? 

At that time, yeah.
Yes. Um, when I leave my country, it was, you know, so, um, sad moment because I’m leaving my, uh, friends, family, parents, everybody in my country. But also in the same time, um, I hoped it will be better for my future. That’s why I come back here because if I finish my study, I got my certification, then I will be able to serve my country better way. So, uh, I think if you sacrifice something, then you can gain something more. That’s why, you know, though, it was a tough decision for me, but, um, I come here for my better future, actually. 

Mm hmm. How was the journey to Europe? Is there any experience that was particularly difficult that you could tell us about? Your journey?
It is not a very difficult journey for me, because when I come back, uh, I just got my visa, student visa coming straight from the country. It’s not like very hard journey for other people, like other people, but it was quite good journey for me. But the problem is, you know, the situation I am facing at the moment, without my status, this is a little bit tough at the moment for me, actually. 

Then, um, what about your dream in your country? What was your…
Right. To be honest, uh, I. I left my country. My thought was, I am an ambassador of my country. I can represent my country. If I do good behavior with people, then when they know about me, they will think, “Oh, the people from the country is good.” I thought like that way because I think I made, you know, uh, representative or I am a delegate for my country. That was my thought. Uh, and I was very patriotic. But nowadays, as I mentioned earlier, so many things happening. So many changes happening. That’s why, nowadays, if I feel I’m come from this country, I feel shame about myself. That’s a huge difference. A huge impact. 

What you have been through seems really difficult. Do you feel like you have grown in any way as a result of the experience here?
Sorry, can you repeat this? 

Do you think you grown yourself here or not?
Um, yeah. As I told you earlier, that I am living here for more than ten years. Twelve years. So, um, I now I am cope with this culture and also I learn lots of things. I can learn lots of things from the people, from this country, from the culture of this country. Uh, as you mentioned earlier, that sometime I do have a volunteer job. By doing this volunteer job, um, I have learn lots of things, lots of things from from the people of this country. So which is a great experience for me. And I think, um, it would be helpful in my future for, you know, to get this experience. So, if you meet with lots of people, you will get new idea and you have new experience, which is, uh, which is really, really good, really important for everybody. So, yeah. 

And what about your dream for future here?
Oh, so, um, to be honest, uh, I don’t see any dream when I sleep. 

You can see, you can say it’s a, is a nightmare because of my current situation. So I can’t think positive thing, I can’t think good thing at the moment because of my current condition. But, I believe if I overcome this situation, I got back my status, maybe I’ll be able to see nice dream. Because, you know, sometime, uh, uh, like you have some new thing to do, but you can’t do it because of your mind is stuck with something else. Just that thing happened with me. So, uh, if you know, once upon a time it was I had a dream, but now I can’t see and dream because, um, this look like anything could be happen in my life. Sometime, I think, “Yeah. OK, I can do a lot of things for the people.” To be honest, uh, if I if I got back my status here, everything will be OK. Then I can do a lot of things for this country, actually, for the country, perform for my community. Can do lots of things. So, but, you know, sometimes I feel very afraid if it could be going against me as well. 

Did you face it? Any racist here or not while you are here?
Um, to be honest, um, everywhere is some racism. Uh, but if you love anybody, then you can get back love. So sometimes, um, you will see lots of things happening on the news. Uh, it’s not actually that things happen. So, sometimes propaganda works. So, it might be a lot of news here and there. But if you meet with the people, then that could be different. Because if you are good, if you be as good to the people then definitely everyone will do the same thing with you. But in competition in Bristol, I didn’t find any racism in Bristol, but maybe other places there’s some racism. 

Is there anything you would like to add that might help people in Europe better understand the life of a refugee here?
Um, I think everybody they have something in their in themselves, actually. So, um, like, I could say something to you, but I don’t know how to say it. But if we work together or know each other, maybe we will be able to find out what is this? That theory, I think is everybody these things happen. So, um, I think no one should treat refugees as a minority. I think everybody they have some potential inside them. So, if we, if they get a chance, then maybe they’ll be able to show their, uh, their, you know, what is called, their ability. Actually, I believe so. 

Thank you so much.
No problem. Thank you very much, you’re welcome. 

I really appreciate. Thank you for your time.

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.