About Refugees, By Refugees

Portrait of refugee Samira in a hijab and red mask sitting down.

Samira Nazari

Pictures taken in:



Photo and interview by:




Zahra Mojahed

“My biggest dream is that my children can reach somewhere good in the future,” says Samira Nazari (33), a refugee from Afghanistan. Living in a Greek refugee camp with her two daughters, Samira says, “I was thinking that once we reach Greece, our problems will be solved. I didn’t know that the problems would just start here.” Jobless and with no access to water, electricity nor money, Samira says “I have no feelings here. Yes, I don’t feel good here.” Despite her struggles, Samira “tolerates most of the problems because of my children.” Recounting her long foot journey across Europe, where her children became very sick, and her money stolen by smugglers in Turkey, Samira says, “I would see people in the park and my heart would melt for them then I would come home and would thank God for my own condition.” Today, when reflecting on all she has been through, Samira says, “My hope…Yes, my trust in God has increased, I have become more something than before.”

Trigger Warning:

full interview

Can you introduce yourself?
I am Samira Nazari from Kabul.

How old are you?
I am 33 years old.

Where do you live now?
We live in Greece inside a camp. In Ileonas camp.

In Ileonas camp, and who do you live with?
With my two daughters.

Are your daughters very young?
One of them is 16 years old and the other is 6 years old.

How is your condition in the camp and in what condition do you live in the camp now?
You can see our condition; in the tent. We are in tents. We have nothing, no electricity, no water, nothing. Also, it is very hot, it gets very hot during the day and our children are all sick and there is no doctor. There is no proper care-giving. They wouldn’t give us any food some days ago. But now since they have brought new refugees recently, they are giving us food. Or else before that, we had to go out and provide food for ourselves.

Your money has also been cut?
Yes, our money has been cut, our debit card has been cut and then, they were supposed to do something for people without a guardian, but we haven’t seen anything yet.

How do you spend your days? Do you go to work?
No, I am jobless.

What do you do?
I do different things. We follow up with Helios (00:01:24) every day and I don’t know we go for FMA and follow up with our works.

What makes you happy? What do you think should happen to make you a little bit happy and enjoy your life?
Well, from the time we have come here until today, we haven’t enjoyed our life. There have only been troubles, we have lived under these tents in the hot weather, fighting, argument, we have seen nothing good.

You were in Moria camp?
Yes, Moria was terrible. You know that the situation in Moria is terrible. That was not an environment for families to live.

How has your life been from the time you reached Europe? Did you have good things? What bad things did you experience?
Well, from the day I came here, I haven’t had a good day yet. It is always trouble. For example, we have had no facilities, and no one has cared about us. From the day that we have come here from Iran, we used to live in Iran, we have not received any services.

How does living here make you feel?
Well, I have no feelings here. Yes, I don’t feel good here.

Are you secured here?
It is a bit better here. It is much better than Moria, considering its security.

Now that you live here, your tent is open from each side.
It is open and Arabs come, when we put any appliances. Now, everything gets lost, our tents get lost. These things exist.

Does anyone harass you here?
No, there is no harassment

Were you even imagining living in such a condition? And be able to control it?
Well, I was not thinking about coming here and experiencing such a condition. I haven’t experienced such a condition in my whole life with this age that I have.

How could you overcome it?
We try to overcome it, God knows. I do try my best.

How could you tolerate it?
We tolerate it and have no other choice. We only wait.

For your children?
Yes, because of our children so they can go forward and reach somewhere. I tolerate most of the problems because of my children.

Do you think that your strengths and skills have improved with all these hardships that you have encountered? Do you think these problems have made you better and made you improve?
Yes, my skills have improved but … well …

For instance, which skills have you improved and what have these problems created in you? Can you explain it? How have these difficulties made you progress? Have your current problems made you improve?
Only for my children to … it is much better here since they can study and go to class. These things have gotten better. I am happy from this aspect.

How has Corona affected your daily life and your emotions?
Well, corona makes us worry more and more every day. We get more stressed. I am saying that the number of affected people has increased because we do not have a proper environment and we are not somewhere to be taken care of. They tell us not to go out and we do not have any type of hygienic items.

You have got nothing?
We have nothing to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

I want to ask about the past now. Why did you leave your country? Can you explain what happened?
Well, the time I came out of Afghanistan, there was war. I came out because of war. We were in Iran and I was living in Iran.

How long have you been in Iran?
I have lived in Iran for around 20 years. Then I got married there and got some problems with my husband. My husband was addicted. I was in a tough place because of my husband and my brother-in-law who were both addicted. That is why I came here because of my children.

Why didn’t you go back to Afghanistan?
There is no proper situation in Afghanistan so how could I go back there? They don’t allow women to work, there is no opportunity for living and going to school. I have nothing there to go back to Afghanistan. There is war going on there.

How do you feel when you think about those times? Before you left your country or your home? Before you left Iran. How do you feel when you think about those moments?
From one aspect, I become happy. When I think about my children and that they might be able to improve, I become happy. But sometimes, I really become sad why I did it. When I face difficulties and when I see my children in this situation, it very much bothers me.

Can you explain your trip to Europe and what incidents happened to you, what problems did you face?
We had a lot of problems during our trip and the time we had to go by foot. Sickness, my children became very sick on the way. Also, I myself had a very hard time and we reached here with a lot of hardships. We had no money, we faced a lot of problems because of having no money.

How did you come from Iran to Turkey? Did anything bad happen to you on your way?
No, thank God nothing bad happened but just we had to take long walks. Yes, sickness and things like that.

How about from Turkey to Greece?
Well, from Turkey to Greece, I struggled a lot in Turkey. In Turkey …

Did you stay in Turkey?
Yes, I stayed in Turkey for eight months.

Eight months in Turkey?
Yes, eight months in Turkey. We were always in the parks and lived here and there. We were in a hostel. Every time the smugglers would steal from us and they stole people’s money. People struggled a lot. We were in a much better condition. They stole our money too; the smugglers stole my money too. I would see a lot of people whose money were stolen by smugglers. I would see people in the park and my heart would melt for them then I would come home and would thank God for my own condition.

When you think about those times, about your trip, how do you feel?
I feel bad.

The way that you came through?
It is a bad feeling.

Do you feel stressed and afraid?
Excuse me?

Do you feel afraid and stressed?
Yes Of course. Now that I think about that I feel horrified. Then I thank God those days have …

Do you mostly think about those incidents? Do you think about these incidents most of the time?
Yes, of course I do.

When do you think about them? And what makes you think about it?
Well, I think about them during the nights when I become alone. Like, what will happen in the future, yes, what I am doing, what will happen to me, what will happen to my kids.

What do you feel when you remember memories? Like during the nights when you remember them?
I sit and cry.

You cry?
I cry. Since my husband was not with me, I have struggled a lot and it was very hard for me. It was very hard for me to raise my children alone.

How has the situation that you were in, affected your current life? The situation that you overcame and the trip that you had, the difficulties that you faced, how have they affected your present life?
I don’t know.

What have been the impacts of the difficulties that you have encountered in your way here? For example, it makes some people become depressed and tired, and it makes one …
Well, no, I have become bolder and those difficulties have very much affected me. Can’t you see our situation now? We came from there … and I feel I have become very old now. I feel very …

Have you gained more experience?

Would you ever think you will be able to manage this situation? And be able to overcome it? Have you thought about it before? Will you be able to overcome it?
Since I had encountered a lot of hardships there too. I would think so but I didn’t think it would be this much difficult, the trip that we had to come here. I was thinking that once we reach Greece, our problems will be solved. I didn’t know that the problems would just start here.

How could you tolerate this situation? And be able to pass this hard situation and I don’t know if you have used any technique to forget those bitter memories a little bit? Did you find any place to help you?
No, I found nothing.

What did you do yourself to get better?
I only think about my children. I mostly get happy because of my children and that they are here with me and thank God they are healthy. Any place … mostly …

Before you left your country and the place you were living in, what was your dream for your future? When you answer this question, use this sentence at the beginning, “My dream was …”, then start your sentence.
Well, my dream was to be with my husband and move forward, have a good life. For example, since my husband was addicted, I didn’t want him to be addicted, so we could have a good life together.

After you decided to take this trip and left your home, what was your dream at that time?
I had a lot of dreams but, well, none of it has come true yet.

What was your dream when you were on your way here?
I loved to reach somewhere good, my children be able to get educated somewhere and get somewhere good, get educated. Since I myself am not educated, I wanted to go and study somewhere, my children go and study somewhere. Now that I have not reached those places, I wish my children to reach somewhere.

Before you left your home and came here, what were your strengths? Can you explain it?What skills did you have in Iran?
For example, how?

For example, someone is very hard-working and committed, someone is very intelligent, someone else is very strong …
Being strong was more like me.

Being strong?

Are you still strong?
I still, thank God, think I am the same.

The difficulties that you have faced, which were really hard, made you feel that you have grown up and improved?
Yes, very much. I feel very …

What positive point has improved in you? What have these hardships created in you? What good points have been built in you, facing these hardships? Something that you didn’t have before? For example, you didn’t have that behavior before but after you took this trip and passed through this way, …
Look, before, I was very … for example, my religion was not complete, my prayers and things like that. But now, I thank God this behavior has increased in me. My hope … Yes, my trust in God has increased, I have become more something than before. In the past, I was thinking that … but now I mostly think that God helps and is for example, behind my back. Commitment, for example …

Now that you are here, what is your dream and hope for your future? What is your dream for your children?
That dream … My biggest dream is that my children can reach somewhere good in the future. To have peace somewhere, to reach somewhere, this is my biggest dream.

Thank you very much for answering my questions. In the end, I want to ask you if you have anything to say from your own condition or for others to better understand the situation of the immigrants here; to let them know in what condition we are living in. Do you have anything to say?
I just … those who have a good place to live, it is really … everyone says that … we didn’t know foreign countries had these hardships. Everyone comes and says let’s go to foreign countries but if you have peace in your place and you live in a good place, that is a foreign country for you. They should not even think about a foreign country. In my opinion, they should never leave their country for the sake of going to a foreign country. For example, now, those who do not need it, they should never leave and come here. It has got a lot of difficulties; it is very hard for the immigrants. Thank you very much.

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.