About Refugees, By Refugees
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“I used to dream of becoming a judge when I was in Syria,” says Rose Ne (34). She lives with the instability of temporary housing in Amsterdam after fleeing Syria due to war and discrimination against Kurdish people. She shares difficult experiences from her journey: “My mother, my sister and I were stuck on a mountain for nearly 30 days … we used to sleep on stones without bedding or covers. Because of the heat, our faces were swollen. Food was very scarce and we could barely manage our livelihood.” She was eventually separated from her family, the very source of her strength. “I constantly feel nostalgic and I need them … I am still not used to their absence.” She finds it hard to adjust to her new surroundings: “Everything is new to me. The most important thing is to understand the language … I have been having a hard time with this.” For the future, in addition to learning Dutch, she says, “I have a very simple dream, and I hope to achieve it … I mean to study at university.”
Well, what is your current situation? The type of accommodation, your circumstances, who you live with, how do you spend your time, do you have a job?
Currently, I am not working. I am studying the language. In terms of housing, I haven’t settled down yet. I live in a small room temporarily and the situation is not stable.
Temporary housing in the camp or have you been given a house?
It is a house similar to camp houses but not in the camp.
Have you asked for a bigger house?
I asked for a bigger house, but the opportunity has not come yet.
Who lives with you?
I live alone.
Al right. How do you spend your time?
I spend my time in school most of the time, and in the markets somewhat, and most of the time I feel lonely because, as I said, I am not accompanied by anyone here. I go home only to sleep because of its very small space which is causing me distress.
Do you have a job?
I don’t work.
How can you make yourself happy?
I am not happy because of the instability of my life, in terms of housing, family and friends. I don’t really have something that makes me feel happy.
You currently have a residence permit, right?
What was your life like when you arrived in the Netherlands. In terms of the pros and cons and the ease and difficulty of life?
I suffered from negative aspects more than the positive because when I arrived, I found living in the camp very difficult and I could not get through that stage. It took a long time until I was able to adapt. Of course, I mean, the house in which I used to live was a temporary residence to some extent until getting the residence permit. We were seven or eight girls living together which made it very difficult to cope and get along, many problems happened.
Have you had any problem at home or something, for example?
There were always problems with girls and even outside the house there were problems. People have no mercy towards each other. I suffered a lot.
Well, how do you feel when you are away from your family and home?
Being away from my family is a very difficult feeling, I constantly feel nostalgic and I need them. until now I am still not used to their absence, to live without a father, mother and brothers is hard.
How long have you not seen your parents?
Almost for two and a half years I did not see my parents, but I met them for about half an hour while they were traveling. It is very difficult to meet with your family after being away from each other for so long then becoming alone again. It felt very bad in fact.
It’s okay. How does the feeling of not belonging affect you since you are a stranger in the Netherlands? Have you overcome the feeling of not belonging?
It was very difficult to adapt to the society in which I am living. Everything is new to me. The most important thing is to understand the language in order to understand them and interact with them effectively. I have been having a hard time with this.
I mean, are you trying to live with the society you are currently in, or is it difficult for you?
It is still difficult. As I said, currently I’m learning the language, but I haven’t fully integrated with them because I still can’t express even the most simple sentences which makes communication difficult.
How has the Corona affected you in terms of your daily life and your mood?
Of course, Corona has affected me very much, very badly. The pandemic has delayed my procedures for a lot of time. I was depressed and I got very sick. I thought it was Covid but thank God it was just a strong flu.
You were in the camp when the Corona virus started, and did you not receive your house yet?
I was in the camp because I had not received the residence permit. I mean, my appointment for the interview was approaching, but the onset of the pandemic affected me a lot.
How do you feel at present?
My feelings are not stable, there’s instability in my life emotionally and physically speaking.
But according to my information, you took the residence and came from the camp and they gave you a correct house?
Yes, they gave me the residence and the house. But I mean, in the end it’s temporary housing. it is just a very small room, you cannot do anything in your space, I feel suffocated. In addition, the community around me is also difficult to cope with.
Do you feel like you have not left the camp and that you only have a room alone?
Yes it is true.
Why did you leave your country?
Because I am originally of Kurdish origin. I mean, I witnessed suffering from the beginning of my life, suffering with society, suffering with the government and all the family procedures. For example, my father used to suffer a lot in order to get our citizenships or any official papers.
Can you describe how you felt when the procedures were delayed and your affairs were disrupted in Syria?
We used to suffer in doing the most simple thing anyone would do. When we wanted to obtain Syrian citizenship, being of Kurdish origin, the authorities would delay my father and delay the issuance of residency which is supposed to be a very simple procedure, but it was constantly delayed. We were young children and we felt my father’s suffering. Although the matter needed only a simple signature, they were procrastinating it for no reason, apart from the high cost of extracting papers. I remember that my father used to struggle when registering my younger brothers.
Was this the reason you left Syria? Or did the events that happened under it also helped your decision to leave Syria?
Honestly, the war conditions, the government and the social situation caused my final decision.
How was your trip to the Netherlands, and what difficult experience did you have in particular?
When I came to the Netherlands in general, I suffered a lot, I lost 10 years of my life until I arrived. I went through a lot. For example, one time my mother, my sister and I were stuck on a mountain for nearly 30 days because the government did not allow us to enter, and of course there were no tents or houses. We used to sleep on stones without bedding or covers. Because of the heat, our faces were swollen. We were waiting for one of the families to leave so that we could take shelter in one of the tents they used. food was very scarce and we could barely manage our livelihood. The means of obtaining food is difficult because it depends on the availability of money, in addition to the frequent presence of fraudsters, swindlers and money hunters.
It’s okay. Did you imagine that you could go through such circumstances? Do you think about the situations that have happened to you?
The events I have experienced never leave my mind. I often remember those days, my suffering, how I was walking alone and how I did many things and how I felt helpless and oppressed. Those memories always haunt my mind, they’ve had a big negative impact on my mental health until now.
Has any difficult or dangerous situation happened to you, for example, on the road, or did you experience a situation that was dangerous to your life?
The risks were too many, but the only time we were terrified was when the government left us after the month of detention. We thought they left us to deal with it alone, but we were surprised that they took us to prison this time and we did not get out of it.
Where did this happen to you?
In Turkey, we thought we were going for a fingerprint center and then we would be free, but soon there were successive cars and we were loaded into them like criminals with very serious crimes. At that time, I felt very afraid for my mother and sister and wondered to myself how is this possible? Then they left us in prison for several days, and then when they got us out, they treated us the worst. For example, they took three hours for each of us only to ask about our names, each one separately to ascertain the real names and nicknames.
Do you feel that your greatest suffering was in Turkey?
Yes, the hardest times were in Turkey.
Then you went out to Greece by sea?
Yes, by sea.
What was your dream before you left Syria? I mean before the war broke out?
Before the war in general, I was unable to complete my dream because of the treatment I received from the regime, school, teachers and even students. It was difficult to achieve what I wanted, especially since my Kurdish origins were an obstacle to this. I haven’t achieved even a fraction of my dream.
You had no dream of being a doctor, for example, or an engineer. You had nothing to dream about, nor was your focus only on studying and being safe?
I used to dream of becoming a judge when I was in Syria.
Currently, how do you feel, and what is your dream for the future?
Currently, I don’t feel stable. Maybe after settling down I can control my thoughts and focus more on my goals and desires for the future.
Do you have a dream for the future in the Netherlands?
I currently dream of learning the language in the Netherlands and working in the field of translation.
Translation from Arabic to Dutch do you mean?
Yes, Kurdish to Dutch, and Arabic to Dutch.
Okay. Before you left Syria, how were you getting your strength?
Honestly, my father and mother were the source of my strength.
Do you have any other sources of power?
I have no sources of power other than my parents, I mean, father and mother, and I missed them a lot.
You told me that you met your family and traveled together?
We were separated from each other in Greece.
You have not lost your family, but you have separated everyone in a country right now?
Yes, this is what happened.
Do you have a dream other than learning language and translation for the future?
I have a very simple dream, and I hope to achieve it. I have not completed my studies in Syria and I have not entered a university. I would like to achieve this dream here in the Netherlands. I mean to study at university.
Okay. I appreciate your answers to my questions. Do you have anything you can add that can help people who are new to Europe to understand how refugees live better here?
My advice to new refugees is to stay away from negative things, try to adapt to people and their habits. The most important thing is to learn the language so that they can communicate with others.
Alright. 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.