About Refugees, By Refugees

Portrait of refugee Samar hiding their face with her hands

Samar Karimi

Pictures taken in:



Photo and interview by:

Bosnia and Herzegovina



Sharmin Tolouimehr

“My dream is to do the things that I wanted to in my own country at the country of my destination,” says Samar Karimi (pseud, 37). Currently in a refugee camp in Bosnia with her husband, Samar left her home country, Iran, due to personal problems. “My dream was to have a really good life compared to what I had,” she recalls, “I think why did this happen? Why did my life break down?” Life in the camp is not easy. “I really feel empty. I feel lost, with no shelter,” Samar says, “I feel like not having anything or like being born anew somewhere.” She sums up the “really difficult” journey to Europe as: “hungry, thirsty, [with] swollen feet.” Yet she feels these events have changed her: “I…see how I’ve become stronger compared to a month or two months ago because the path was really difficult.” Samar intends to move to another country, with her husband and her faith giving her the strength to continue: “I know that there is God and he will be showing us the best path.”

Trigger Warning:

full interview

Shall we start? It’s about your current condition. What type of accommodation do you live in? 
We are in a camp in Bosnia

Could you explain the conditions? 
The Bosnia camp…… doesn’t have good conditions. Mainly because we don’t have water, sometimes we don’t have water for 4 to 5 hours. We don’t have a bathroom. There’s a bathroom for around 200 – 300 people. We need to stand in queue and reserve a time…. and the food and eating conditions aren’t good at all.

Who are you living with? 
With my husband.

How do you spend your time here? 
I’m always in the room.

Do you work? 

What are the things that are the cause of your happiness?
Only leaving this place.

Is it that hard? 
Well, yes. The conditions are really hard.

Ever since you entered Europe, how has your life been?
Ever since I entered Europe…. umm… that would be our first stop which was Greece. Well, we didn’t have any good conditions because we had to go from country to country till we reach somewhere. The conditions were really difficult. I’ll say it again that the conditions of the way, not bathing, food. There’s a lot to explain but the conditions were really tough.

What was the benefit of staying here?
Bosnia camp?

The Bosnia camp……. doesn’t have any benefits. It just gives us a place to sleep.

What was difficult for you? 
Bosnia camp?

The way…Bosnia camp
The way…. The fact that we had to walk night or day for around 30km, 40km, 27km, and all of our feet were injured and swollen. If such is the way then it’s hard. If you mean in terms of settling and moving a place then the conditions aren’t that great.

Can you explain how living here has made you feel? 
I really feel empty. I feel lost, with no shelter. I feel like not having anything or like being born anew somewhere.  I just can’t explain it or how I’m supposed to explain it. But overall, it’s not a good feeling.

What feeling do you get being away from your family members?
It’s really tough. There have been nights when I cried for my family. But the conditions are such that it has made me be really far from them.

How has the feeling of not belonging here or discrimination affected you? 
Actually, I’m living in a country where I can’t have any social communication with the people, nor can I meet and greet people. I just can’t communicate with them because I don’t know their language.

Did you ever imagine coping with this condition? The condition that you are currently in. 
No, I never imagined it.

Was it that difficult? 
Almost difficult. My life in Iran was almost a good life. Not too high nor too low, but well, my life was good. From the start of my journey till where I reached here, I never thought I could understand or sense these conditions.

How were you able to overcome it to live? As in, when you were on the way.
Because of the future, because I know that there is God and he will be showing us the best path.

Do you think you have the ability to overcome these challenges or do you think you had the strength or mechanism to cope with these issues? The challenges of the way. 
No, this goes back to the same question you asked me before. I never thought the conditions would be this hard but well, I overcame it. I was able to because of a series of issues that have happened.

How has Covid-19 affected your daily life? 
Ever since covid-19 came, communication was reduced. It has become through the telephone. We can’t see or meet each other. So, it has had its effects.

Did it affect you? Did you get the covid? 
Yes, I got covid twice. The first time was really bad and the other time was almost bad.

Now, it’s about your past. Why did you leave the country?
Due to some personal issues.

How was the journey to Europe? 
The journey to Europe…. I still haven’t reached the country that we have in mind and I can’t say. But considering the conditions once again from the beginning of Europe which was Greece all the way to Bosnia, I can once again say that the conditions weren’t good.

Did you have any specifically difficult experiences that you can tell us?
If I want to talk about the way, then the way is really difficult. You should have the ability to come through this way. We choose a path where we had to walk from Turkey to Greece. And the difficulties were: being thirsty, hungry, swollen feet, can’t change clothes, couldn’t take a bath, couldn’t be clean. These are such conditions.

What feeling did u have at that time? 
At that time, all I can say is that I was crying. The fact that I couldn’t have the things I had in my private house here.

Do you often think of these incidents that happened? 
No, I think…. yes, yes, I do. I think about the past and see how I’ve become stronger compared to a month or 2 months ago because the path was really difficult. 

When do you think about these? 
I think every day, every minute, and every hour about the things that happened along the way.

Is there anything specific that you think about often?
Something specific…well yes, I say things like, why did it have to be this way? There are certain personal things that I can’t mention but I think why did this happen? Why did my life break down?

When you think of them, what feeling do you have? 
Bad, a really bad feeling. I can’t explain it.

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

Well, as I said, we don’t have any place or shelter. We don’t know if we are on this side or the other side. We don’t have any private houses to do anything that one would do in their private homes.

Have you ever imagined of managing those situations? 
No, I’ve never imagined it, as I said earlier in the above question, I didn’t think that I would face such a condition or easily overcome it.

How were u able to be alive and cope with the difficult route? 
Well, first of all…. God and the second is the cooperation of my husband.

Did you have any solution or resolution to overcome the difficult days and memories? 
Unfortunately Not, I don’t have a good memory of it. The way was really difficult and no one can create a memory regarding this difficulty.

Where did you get the strength and support? 
First God then my husband.

What was your dream before the incident that led to you running away from your country? Can you start with “My dream was…”? 
My dream was to have a really good life compared to what I had and have the skills that I liked to have, but it didn’t happen. 

What wishes did you have for the future when you were leaving your home? 
My condition was so bad that I didn’t think about those wishes.

Now concluding the questions. Before leaving your country, what did you describe as your strength? 
Before leaving the country… Ummm… my family, my sisters, and brothers, father and mother.

Have you preserved these? 
Yes, yes.

If so, how? 
Well, we frequently keep in contact with each other. There is skype and WhatsApp, we video call. We talk and video call several times a day.

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? 
I think I’ve become a lot bigger and I think there are certain things that people have to experience. 

What are the hopes and dreams you have now for the future? “My dream is…”
My dream is to do the things that I wanted to in my own country at the country of my destination. 

We thank you for your answering all 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? 
First of all, thank you for your interview, and thanks for following up…………… Ummm…………. I really don’t know what I’m going to face for them to think it for me but first, it all goes back to our efforts. The things that I’ve seen, as in when I communicated with the Europeans was that there is no duality or discrimination, they consider everyone the same. Ummm, I don’t know, I don’t know how else I’m supposed to answer this question. I need to reach my destination to see what I lack to be able to tell them to do it for me.

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.