About Refugees, By Refugees

Yousef Miqdadn

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Photo and interview by:




Mahmoud Jabbie

My dream now, to be able to live safe,” says Yousef Miqdadn (26) a Palestinian refugee. Yousef has found safety in a refugee camp on the Greek island of Leros, but life is incredibly hard. It’s “like I’m in a prison,” he says. “It’s bad here, but I had a worse life before I came here,” referring to growing up in the Gaza strip where, he says, Palestinians are “facing the killing and bombing every day.” He wants to be able to help his family who are still there. “Every day I’m thinking about them because I know that they are in danger,” he says. “I have a purpose – to find my new life and to help my family.” To start that new life, Yousef made nine dangerous sea crossings attempts to get to Greece. “The journey, it was very bad,” he says. “Every day I’m thanking God that I’m, I reached safe here.” His faith has helped him through the many challenges he’s had to endure. “If you believe in your God, you God will believe in you and he will give you to the enough power to face anything.”

Trigger Warning:

full interview

Hello how are you?
I am very good, thanks.

Who are you?
My name is Yousef Miqdadn.

Where are you from?
I’m from Palestine.

Nice talking to you. What kind of housing do you live here?
Yeah, I’m living in Greece in the hotspot- in Leros Island.

Where is that hot spot is?
It in a place for the refugees in the island made special for the refugees. And I am appealing my case here in this place.

So how life in the camp? Can you talk about life in the camp?
Life in the camp, for anyone, I don’t think like someone who will say something different, but it’s hard of course. It’s the life in the camp is very hard.  But we still alive at least. We we we just safe a little bit, right. But we live.

So how does that make you feel?
Eh, because I’m waiting my exception for the ID and I have been take it, I take my exception to take an ID. But before that, I was feeling bad, of course, and life is more hard here, but yes, maybe I can say it’s better because I take the exception for the ID.

So how long have you been in the camp?
I’ve been here since the last September. That means one year.

One year now?

So like, do you live with your wife?
No, I’m alone here.

Ok, you’re living only alone here? So, like, how do you spend your day here in the camp?
I explained it to the people and the friends that I have met here, and they have become my family like I was alone as as I said, I came alone, but here I gain people and friends. And these people became my family here. That’s how I spent my time with them. It become good. 

So how does that makes you feel?
It means sometimes it’s, uh, it’s mixed feeling. I Can say it’s mixed. Sometimes if I spent my time with them, yeah, we, we sometimes feel some joy and uh, fun, but uh… we all hear anyone have his problem… in one, uh… every-everybody and, I’m sorry, everyone has his problem. And if things he thinking always about his family and uh, his dreams like this. But, uh, that make me feel a little bit like powerful, but yeah sometimes I feel bored and I feel bad. But I can say, yeah, I think good.

So you work? Do you have a job?
Er, for now, no.

So what brings you joy?
I’m sorry?

What brings you joy in the camp?
The time that you spent with the people that they became your family. That’s it. If if there is no one here to talk with him, you will feel hopeless, pessimistic and feel these things because you are in a closed area and you don’t have anything to do.

So how life has been since you arrive in Europe?
Uh, since I arrive here?

LIke what has been the like the good things and bad?
And the bad things? The good things….

Yeah, and the difficult things?
Let’s see the bad things, but we’ll start with the bad things. The the how the police they’re in the treat with us and the the even the people who are living in the city when we go to the city, sometimes I think there is some racism, maybe because of the color, because of their religion. I don’t know. It’s not clear. But there isn’t a racism that I face here. But the good things, the good things that you waiting for something. It’s it’s possible to be happen. Like the only thing it’s you papers, your procedures, if you will got an exception about your ID or not. And this is it, the good thing that I got here. Difference in the the exception of the ID.

So, like how does that make you feel, the groups and the the the bad things and the good stuff makes you feel.
It is it’s it’s very hard to to suppress it because. The bad things is more than the good things, and they told you, just waiting here for you were your exception. So there is only one thing is good here. And the best things is, as I told you, the life here, the difficulty of the life in the camp and the, the, even the food. And they even, even when you sleep, you will find a lot of the bad things that I did. The you are living in a dirty place. It’s very dirty, as you see. And they they do not make us have a good situation to live well. They they just put us in a place that maybe it’s safe because there is a police everywhere, but there is nothing. You have to do it. You just sleep, eat, whatever they give you and… and like this.

So how can you be… the… yeah, so like how can you describe how living here has made you feel? How can you describe how living here in this camp has made you feel.
I feel like, the like, I will not go out from this place for my own life. Yeah, for food sometimes I felt a lot, a lot that I will not go out from this place, like I’m in a prison.

So could you ever imagine that you will be able to handle all these situation? Could you ever imagine that you will be able to handle all these stuffs.
For me? Yes, because yes, because I trust myself and I believe in God. I believe in God and God always helping us. Because I’m a Muslim and I’m praying for my God, and they’re always, he helping me by maybe if he send you someone to be your friend, to talk with him, to feel some some comfortable. Yeah. That make me believe in myself. Like I will. I will pass this. I will pass this.

So, how have been able, how have you been able to overcome all these things?
By the time I can say by the time I just because the time will pass, if we want or we didn’t, the time will pass. And by the time we we just passed all of this, like you, you have just asked me since when you are here? I’m here since one year. Yeah. I feel like it’s ten years. But in the same time I didn’t feel like how this one year just passed like this and I didn’t feel it.

Do you think that you would be better off now? You know, all these things like to. Yeah, like to… Yeah, like to… Yeah, I know more like to endure this… yeah, like these hard times.
I’m sorry, I didn’t understand.

Like do you have these skills like to ensure all these hard things.
Yes. Because maybe the before in my country that I come from, I face the more, more difficult situations. So uh, maybe, you can say that I have experience how to to survive and how to how to to pass all of this. And because I had in a bad that situation in my country. So this is maybe more easy than the life that I had in my life. Yeah, it’s bad here, but I had a worse life before I came here.

How does that make you feel?
I don’t know the feeling here, it’s always mixed you you cannot express your feeling because you feel like it’s like someone holding you so so you cannot express your feelings. And the feeling is not it’s not clear.

How has the COVID affected you in terms of your daily life and your mood?
Sorry can you…

COVID, how does the COVID…
Yeah, yeah now I understand… I was affected because uh, because they closed the camp more and they put more more uh, conditions to go out by permission that make the person feel more bad and more confused and more uh, people optimistic… eh, pessimistic. Um, excuse me. I’m sorry. And that to make my procedures become very slow, very slow, maybe, maybe before the COVID, I was to finish my procedures before three months, but because of COVID-19, that make it very slowly make the procedures and everything getting more worst.

Why did you leave your country?
Because my country is now uh, for to live, it, this is, it’s impossible. To live and to have a job and safe life in my country. This is impossible for this time.

Yeah, like I want you to explain, like, what’s up with, yeah, yeah, with yeah, with you?
Yeah. It’s not happening with me, especially. It’s happening with all the Palestinians, because, as you know, Palestine is occupied by Israel since 1948. And this is make the Palestinian facing  the killing and bombing every day. That make the life is impossible, like every year you have war of bombing, killing civilians. Without reason, the reason is political, and they’re fighting about not just religion. No, it’s just they’re like an elimination for the, the palestinians. It’s not just about religion or it’s about the land. There, there is no they’re just not just Israel. And there is a militia controlling the Gaza Strip that I was living there and the these militia killing by the name of the God like Daesh and this to this organization around the world. So the life there is very dangerous and it’s impossible. Every year there is a war. And if not, if there is not a war, you will not be able, even if you have graduated or whatever, you have a certificate, you will not find a job. You must be one of them. Or you must, uh to, to be at home like this, and if you try to go out and to walk without helping, then you will face yourself to, to be killing. You don’t know, you go out from your home, you don’t know what is gonna face you in the street. Maybe there is a bomb somewhere, maybe someone will have a gun and shoot some.. uh, everybody in the street without a reason like this, this is the situation. I think all the world is knowing what is happening in Palestine and in Gaza Strip, especially. That’s it.

So, how does this make you feel?
For me, of course, I will feel very, very bad because this is my country and I, I just go out from there, forced there. It wasn’t to go out of my country. Why I want to go to your. To to find a job. So, no, it was to stay at my country and to find a job and to to to to have a family and a safe life like all the people are around the world. They have, but. Because firstly, I have to do this, I, I forcedly left my family, my father, my, my, my. My, my my younger brother, I left him there and I don’t know if they are safe or not. And every day I’m thinking about them because I know that they are in danger. The danger every day, if this day passes, I’m thinking to the next day, what if that day was passed safe or not?

You speak with them?
Yes, I call them by the Internet if they have an Internet connection. Cuz it’s hard in Gaza. Sometimes the the connection is very bad. So I’m doing my best to call them.

So, how was the journey to Europe? How was your jouney to Europe?
Uhh. How was my what, I’m sorry?

You are journey to Europe? From Palestine to Europe.
Yeah. um, It was very.

Like how do you from like experience you learn through all this journey?
For, for this, I learned a lot. And for me, I gained a lot of knowledge because I meet thousands, but hundreds of thousands of people since I left Gaza to Turkey, to Greece. I met a lot of people. It was very hard and dangerous because I tried to to reach to to Greece by nine month-, nine times. And it was very dangerous these nine time. And uh, it was one of the one of these nine times I was was to die because, you know, we we came to to Greece by boat in the in the sea, this boat is it’s not safe, I’d say, like an uh, an uh, a safe boat to go to an uh, seven hours in the sea, without navigator, without anything to, to, if this boat just sinking, gets sinking, you don’t know if you will survive or not. It was very hard. But I meet a lot of people in Turkey. I meet a lot of people here. And I know how the people, the people overseas like people who are not Palestinian. How do you live with the they speak what the language they use that make my knowledge get improved more. But the journey, it was very bad and every day I’m thanking God that I’m, I reached safe here.

How does this make you feel?
This is make me feel proud of myself that I did something that I was planning for and I was uh, yeah, I’m very proud of myself and of my parents that they gave me this trust to go over the seas to to find a new lifestyle, cuz I have a purpose to find my new life and to help my family. So, I must to be proud. 

Like do you have any other thing like you think of… I know more of… like what you have been through and what you have been through now so like do you… any other thing like you think of frequently?
Um, uh,  I-I don’t, I‘m thinking like, I’m thinking what what’s next after all of this, what I’ve done and what happened with me, I face, I faced very dangerous situations in Turkey, in Gaza, in Greece. Even so, I’m thinking every day like what is waiting for me after all of this? Do I will have and uh, an, uh, comfortable life, or I will still be fighting the life like this for all my life. Do I will have an, uh, a good sleep? I will sleep comfortable after all of this or not? Do I will have a good food? Do I will be a comfortable about my family or not? That’s what all I’m thinking on. What next about? About all of this. But I will not give up. That’s what I’m thinking on, on that. I will not give up what whatever I have faced in this life. 

Do you think about the past?
The past for me, uh, there’s nothing because the past is… is this a wrong time? It’s the same. For me, the past eh, and  now it’s the same, the past, I cannot forget it. I can’t forget the past. And because I cannot forget it, because it’s this- the wrong time, it’s the same. It’s the same, so I don’t think about the past, I’m just thinking about what next? I’m thinking about the coming things.

So like it will matter, like when you think about what next, how does that really makes you feel?
I feel scared, really. I feel very scared because I don’t trust the days, I don’t trust the life no more, cuz when I wait for uh first date, I find something just to blow up what I was planning for, I find everything is going wrong, everything around… Y-you don’t know and what what will will be happened after that, so when I think about the coming days, I’d be scared because um, Im not trust this life.

So, like all the bad things you have been through, like all the bad things you have, yeah, like you have been through, and what it affect you now?
It affect me uh, for two sides, the good side and bad side. Affect me the good side that make me uh, to have an experience how to face these bad things and how to face these bad feelings even. And it affect me bad like uh, yeah, it make me very scary from tomorrow. So, yeah that’s it.

Will you ever imagine that you able to undo all this situations?
Yeah, I was imagine that because as you told me, I lived a bad, uh, more bad life before in the past. So. What I’m living now is it’s the same, so uh, yeah, I can imagine that I would handle all of this.

So, how do you feel about this?
For now, maybe because they take the exception for my I.D., I feel a little bit optimistic, maybe, maybe after all of this, the God will give me a prize. Like, uh, an-a gift to to have an a good lifestyle. But I still not trust this life.

How were you able to survive, or get through all these things?
I’m sorry, say again?

How were you are able to survive all these bad things?
How I can solve you mean or?

How were you able to survive all these things?
Yeah, yeah how I can survive.

Yes how you go through it?
The God- if you believe the God will, and you the god will believe in you. If you believe in your God, whatever it was, your religion, if you believe in your God, you God will believe in you and he will give you to to the enough power to to to face anything and around this world. And what that what I believe that. And I believe in my God.

What was your strengths and support back home?
To back to home, yeah, this is my wish to back to home, but…

No, your strengths you have back home, like when you was growing up there what was your strengths and support?
I’m sorry, I don’t understand.

Your strength, it’s like the thing that’s push you.
Pushed me, pushed me to do what?

Motivation. Now, what is my motivation? My father works. He always telling me what to do and what the experience that we have. He telling me about his advice, make me be strong more. And they any any old man, if he talked to me and he gave me his advice, that make me feel like I’m more powerful. And uh, whoever I meet in my life, it’s not just my father and the old people or anyone who have experience in this life, I take his advice that’s make me more strong. More able to face the life with its good and bad things.

So what is your strength now?
My strength now. To be fair, I take it from my God. I take my strength from my God. He’s the only one who can let me survive. And I believe in this.

When you was back home, what was your dream?
My dream was. To finish my education and after that, to get to job. Like I was dreaming to be a police officer to protect uh, the civilian, the civilian in my country, to be an policeman. That was my dream. But after that you see, everything is going down in Palestine, my country. So, that was a dream. And it’s still a dream.

So like, how does this make you feel like when your own… yeah, like the place you are born, yeah, and no more, and now you are saying it’s going down and you don’t have the strengths. So, like how does this make you feel?
Of, of course. It’s-it’s very, very painful. Because you don’t, you don’t have anything to do what you can do, all the only thing that I can do for for for my country, is to pray. And I pray a lot for my country, to make the God, to make it to be like in the past to be in a very strong country, and safe- everyone have his good life and safe life. That’s what.

So what is your dream now?
My dream now to uh to be able to live safe, and to job in Europe. To-to help my uh, father to- because he have us, I have a lot of younger brothers and sisters, they will need to to live. So my dream now to just to reach Europe and to find a job and to to make them have an a safe, comfortable life.

Like what you have been though seem really hard. Do you feel like you have grown in any way as a result of this experince you have been through?
So, can you say the question again?

What you have been through seem really hard. Do you feel you have grown in any way as a result of this experience?
Yes. Uhh. The experience of going on with.

Anything good you want to talk about?
Anything good that I’m talk about? 

Yeah like the experience you have given these things, the strengths…
Yeah, the strengths that uh, I… I allow now to contact with a lot of people around the world from different countries to realize them um, um my letter. to realize them what is going on to Palestine to tell them everything about the truth, about Palestine, about my country and what is going on there to tell them what is my ambition? You understand? And then this is it, the skills how to connect with people, how the people living, how they contact with each other and many things. Many things.

So, what is your hope and dream for the future now?
For the future? 

Yes. Your hope and dream.
Yes, I hope if I found what I’m looking for.. uh, if I find an a job that I deserve, if I-if I found an a good lifestyle-new lifestyle. And if I find a comfortable life for me and for my family, this is the important thing because I go out to find the comfortable and safe life for my family, exactly, and especially now. For me, It’s special enough for me just for my family thats what I hope.

We really appreciate your answers. Like, do you have any other things you want to have?

For me, no things.

Like, may help the Europeans have a better understanding about what the life of refugee?

Yes. For this, I can say I wish if if they just treat with the refugees with more mercy and, I hope, I wish if there was no racism in the world I hope of this racism just being, just eliminated like this. Cuz no one has the right to be racist or anyone because we are all equals, we believe I believe as a Muslim like, we are all equals black, white.. well, Muslim, Christian, Jewish… We are all one, we are all one. And that’s it.

Thank you so much.
You’re welcome, sir.

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.