About Refugees, By Refugees
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Photo and interview by:
“I left my country because I felt that there is no life there,” Zuheir (30) explains. A filmmaker from Lebanon, Zuheir became a refugee to escape the harassment he faced from being gay and HIV positive. He left to find “a home that I was missing in my home country.” After travelling to London where he then sought asylum,he recalls: “one of the most beautiful things I have heard from English people in particular, when I received my refugee status was Welcome Home.” Now, he says, London feels like where he belongs. It gives him “the courage just, like, to continue.” It is not always easy though. “Sometimes I feel that I’m very lonely being here. And just like far from the people I love.” But he finds joy in films, gaining a scholarship for a Masters degree in directing, which led him to work on an award-winning film. “My dream is to be on the red carpet, going to the film festival to receive my award.” For Zuheir, “art is all about sharing. I can share my experience. I can tell my story.”
Hello, Zuheir how are you?
I’m fine, thanks.
OK, let’s start now by telling by introducing yourself to us, please.
My name is Zuheir Kredeih. I’m 30 years old, almost like 31. I’m a Lebanese refugee here in the UK based on my sexuality and on my HIV status. I am a filmmaker and I’m a troublemaker as well.
OK, so I’m going to tell you a little bit about this project, OK? It’s called One Thousand Dreams. We take pictures of asylum seekers and refugees in order to change the attitudes like the negative attitudes about refugees and asylum seekers in Europe. And if you don’t want to be identified in the interview or the pictures, you can you can tell us. And like the interview or the picture will be available on the Internet so anyone can see it like any member of your family or any friends might see it.
What else? So, like, we signed the forms.
OK, so I’m going to ask you some very personal questions, OK? You can skip any question, OK? If you don’t feel like answering any of them, you can just say Skip and I’ll skip it and go to the next one, OK? You can take a break whenever you want it. You can even like, finish the interview whenever you want. OK, and you can you can withdraw your consent. OK, do you have do you have any questions before we go on. Do you want me to explain anything to you.
OK, you’re comfortable to start now.
OK, ok. So I’m going to start with this section which is about your current situation. OK, I’m going to ask you what kind of housing do you live in at the moment?
It’s a private renting.
It’s private renting. I am on housing benefits and I yeah, that’s it.
And can you describe the conditions of the place you live in?
It’s a great place. I love it. I think I’m very lucky like to have such a place. I’m very happy with the place and I’m very grateful for the opportunity that the government offered me and gave me. I think I’m getting more than I deserve to be on Earth like.
Yeah, OK, good.
So is it you like do you live with someone, do you share the flat with other people? It’s only for yourself?
So like I have the flat, like for myself, but like I am just like at the moment, like I’m staying with my like my partner is staying like here like it’s our house like no but like yes. The government gave me like this place on my own.
Yeah. OK good. How do you spend your time here?
I spend my time honestly, like at the moment, like I’m not doing anything that make me feel productive. I wake up, I just like I have my coffee, then I go to bed and then I eat, then bed theneat then bed then eat then bed then eat then bed then eat.
And on the phone. And I don’t think that with this lockdown like there is like much like doing. It just like 2020, it feels like a little bit awkward and weird. And I think there’s no not much things that we can do. I think so yeah. I’m not doing I’m just like staying home though most of the time.
OK, OK. Let me ask you about like can you can you tell me a few things that bring you joy.
The few things films.
Like watching films or making films.
And making films.
And making films.
OK, any other things that bring you joy?
Maybe, yeah, maybe having my morning coffee like with my partner.
OK, this is OK.
How has life been since you arrived in Europe.
Since I arrived in Europe, like I think life was a little bit like difficult. It wasn’t easy but it was worth it. Like for sure. Life changed. ike, well, I can tell you with all the struggles that I passed through, like being an asylum seeker, like dealing with the Home Office, the stress of waiting and not knowing if I’m going to be accepted, not accepted. It was very stressful, like being homeless, like, you know, like depending on others, living on other expenses, like sometimes receiving 37 pounds for a week and not be allowed to work was definitely a big struggle, but with all the struggle I believe that London offered me something that I was looking for, which is like love. I felt at home here. And like Nawal Saadawi, the biggest Egyptian writer said, “home is not where you’re born in prison. Home is where you feel creative, appreciated, safe and loved.” This is why I decided to move to the UK. I think that London is my home and London is the city that will always have my heart so lifelike. Let me summarize this. Life wasn’t easy. It’s getting better. You can do something in this country. Everyone is very helpful and people are very kind, super kind. And one of the most beautiful things I have heard from English people in particular, when I received my refugee status was Welcome Home.
Yeah, amazing, yeah, how did you feel when when when you heard that?
I thought just like no words can explain this feeling. It’s just like you can imagine, I cannot really explain because like if I explain, like for three days about this feeling, I wouldn’t, I wouldn’t find the right word, like, really describe this feeling. So I skip it.
Can you can you describe how living here in London, in the U.K. in general, has made you feel in general?
No, I said it made me feel safe, creative, and loved.
Amazing. Amazing. OK, how does being away from the rest of your family or home, friends make you feel?
Lonely maybe, scared sometimes, relieved as well. So, yeah, it’s I think it’s mixed feelings.
Can you tell us more about this place?
Like it’s just like a little lonely nights, like being in London, London, the lonely city, if we really want to face it. Uh, even the environment that I was born in was so difficult but sometimes it’s just like it’s sort of relief as well. On the other hand, because, like I chose this life, I decided to come to the U.K., I decided London to be my home city. So it’s just like, yeah, it’s a mixed feeling. Sometimes I feel very happy being here. Sometimes I feel that I’m very lonely being here. And just like far from the people I love. That’s it.
And you also said you said lonely, and you said two other things.
I think it’s just like, yeah, tell me,.
Yeah, know like I think the last one was the one that I wanted to ask you about.
Yeah. Why relieved?
Relieved because, like, sometimes I need space from people because I’m not like I don’t really like to be always with people and I like to be always with people. This is why I describe by mixed feelings.
Yeah. OK, thank you. OK, this, this question might not be relevant. OK, but you can just tell me if it happened to you or not. So how does the feeling of not belonging, discrimination or stigma impact you if, if you feel any of these, OK, not belonging to discrimination or stigma? How do they impact you? So do you feel that you don’t belong here?
In the UK, in London?
No, of course. Of course. I feel like since I decided like to choose the city to be my home city, it’s, I belong here.
Amazing, have like do or like, have you ever felt that you like people discriminate against you, like people discriminate against you because you’re a refugee or.
No, no, not at all.
This never happened.
Do you feel any type of stigma or.
No, not in the UK.
OK, cool. Um. So, like, yeah, we talked about a few things that were like good about being here and other things that were that are difficult about living in in London and in the U.K. in general. Eh, could you ever have imagined that you would have been able to handle this, like these difficulties?
Yeah, sure. Sure, sure. I I’m a tough person. I know it’s like I’m a tough person and I can handle the situation and what happened with me and they would like made me a really strong and gave me the strength just like to continue and to have like this power. We just have to stick their neck out and to come to the UK and I think I believe that I can do it.
Um, how have you been able to overcome and survive with it? Is it is it only because like, eh, because like you came from Beirut and like, you already had the strength to deal with it or.
Yeah, like of course, like London, like gave me more strength and it gave me like the courage just like to continue. But like I think every every time like people change and every day people change and every experience is definitely like challenging. But I do believe that it’s a great.It’s just like it’s a great. It’s a nice experience.
OK, thank you. Um, so you think that you develop the ability to deal with these challenges?
Of course, like, it’s not I developed like on my own, like the situation that I was put in make me like develop like these abilities if you want.
OK, good eh. How has covid-19 affected you in terms of daily life and your mood, feeling, emotional wellbeing?.
Mood, feeelings. I just like I had like this defoulement, like I was using lots of drugs like my like. It’s not like I wasn’t like an addict like before. I’ve been always an addict, but like of course, Iike covid-19 because it made people very isolated. So like I believe that, uh, I believe that it really affected like uh my addiction and it’s escalate elevated like the one to the level of need that’s, of course, and maybe it affected the whole world.You know, like I think that everyone has its own way like to deal with situations. But like, yeah, of course, it affected me. It seemed like the world like is uh falling, wasn’t really fun. Like you feel like you go out, you feel like as you’re in a film, as of like this is not real, you know, like just feeling and seeing people just queuing for an hour and an hour and a half and two hours just maybe to get a bottle of milk or like getting something. It wasn’t really something fun like to see and like seeing all the people, like, dying. And yeah, I think it affected the whole world. It’s not like something just related to me.
Yeah, uh, yeah, let me just um…How, how do you feel about, like, the whole situation in general, like you just being in like in the middle of the lockdown.
In the middle of the lockdown?
Yeah, like after the covid-19, ehm, things started, like after the the widespread like.
Are you serious about this question? Like who asks like this question? Are they laughing like this?
No, no, this is like I wanted to talk more about this. So like how like so like it’s it’s more about how we feel about this, like, you know, this stage of our lives, like in 2020 and how like covid-19 affected us.
So it’s not about like how Covid, COVID-19 affected like everyone, how covid-19 affected asylum seekers and refugees, you know what I mean?
It’s not about asylum seekers and refugees. Is like covid-19 it’s not gonna, like, affect like asylum seekers or refugees. It’s affecting like the whole world.
Yeah, I know. I know. But like the like the impact on people is different. It’s just because like like the impact is different according to the situation and conditions of each person.
Each a group of people, if you know what I mean.
I feel like to be honest
Like the people affected in the UK are different from the people of Lebanon
And I got you. I got you. I got you. I got you, like I think I believe that if you want to say speak about like refugees, I cannot like speak about like the whole refugees I can speak about me as Zuheir.
As a refugee?
I just want you to talk about…
Yeah. Yeah I told you. I told you that It’s just like it was we spoke about it like and the previous question that it wasn’t fun. My addiction elevated. Eh, I was very isolated and it’s just like brought to me a lot of depression and anxiety I think. Yeah that’s it. But it’s not like I cannot really speak about the whole refugees because I don’t know, like you said, like, it affects every person like differently.
Yeah, I know. I know.
Yeah, I just I want you to talk about it as you like Zuheir like what Zuheir went through. Yeah. That’s it. Well thank you so much for your answers.
Um, we’re going to move to the second part now, which is your past.
If you need a break or if you…
No no no no just like. Yeah.
Yeah. Sure, yeah, yeah Go. go, go ahead.
OK, so, um, we’re going to start talking now about your past.
The first question is, why did you leave your country?
I left my country because I felt that there is no life there. There is no future. I was born to face so many verbal harassment and I had like to leave at some point. I came out in 2014 as a gay and HIV positive man after I got deported from Dubai and then like the documentary, like went viral in the festivals and then like I became like a public figure, like for the people who couldn’t really speak about like this taboo and also the feeling that life in my country is almost impossible. I decided like to move to the UK for a better future, for a a home that I was missing in my home country.
Yeah, OK. Um, How did that make you feel at the time? Like you knowing that you have to leave your home, you have to leave everything behind…
You have to leave like your family? How did it make you feel at that time?
I was very happy.
I was very happy like I was, to be honest. I was very happy. Um, at that moment we’re talking about that moment.
Yeah. But also, like when you made the decision also because, like, it’s not an easy decision to leave everything behind and go. Right?
Yeah. But like, when you made that decision,.
It’s not only about like when you left, but it’s about when when you, when you had to make that decision.
It’s not I had to make the decision. Sometimes the decision is made and it push you like to do an action. So I think like the decision was made like before, you know, like.
And I had like to take just like the option to apply for the visa and to get the ticket and to move.
Like the circumstances at that moment pushed me like to do with this action.
OK, so the next question is going to be about your journey in general. So could you just tell us about this like how like how like you felt the need to leave, like to apply for the visa and how you applied for the visa and all these things?
I told you. I told you.
Then after like after you came here, what happened so like, could you please just like tell us, tell us ehm
I’m going to tell you about like here what happened. Because I spoke about it like in the previous question, and I said that I was born to face so many verbal harassment because I’m just like, going to fear that I’m repeating myself. So…
It’s OK. You can repeat yourself as much as…
It’s not. I’m not going to feel comfortable repeating myself. It’s not. No, it’s just like I’m (inaudible).
Because I know I’m also repeating questions, but like,
Yeah, I think.
Yeah. So I think that uh after I came here, what was the question?
Like, the whole like your whole journey, like from the from the moment you decided to leave, decided to apply for the visa.
Applied for the visa and then you came here, so like.
Like the whole journey.
OK, ok. I got you. OK. So when I decided that I need like to move I need to leave, it wasn’t easy because like especially like for the people are coming from our country. It’s not really easy. Like to get a visa. This is one. So like the stress that I was living with was (pphhhh) was overwhelming. I think that (sigh) it was too much for me. Seriously, it was too much like to deal with, but I think uh waiting is a killer. Like just like to wait like I applied, I’m waiting for the visa. it might get accepted. It might no then, like, I got the visa then like I moved.
How long did you wait for the for the…
Two weeks. Two weeks.
How did you feel during these two weeks?
These two weeks I felt that time is not passing.
Seriously, I just felt that I’m freezing. I’m freezing. Eh, I’m just focusing on this. I wake up at night. I barely sleep, you know, like it was just like, yeah,.
Yeah, I totally understand. Yeah, yeah, Um yeah.
Yeah, I came here, I uh stayed with friends. They…
Sorry. I need to to interrupt you here. I’m so sorry. But was it like did you face any incidents like when you when you were leaving like the the airport in Beirut and then when you…
When I was leaving the airport and very good. That’s nice. Like that’s good. Like to ask about it. Yes when I was leaving the airport in Beirut, I was stopped by the,uh, general security asking me like, how did I get the how did I get the visa? Because, like, the visa was like stamped from the UK. And they said that the passport needs to be in Jordan. So how my passport like got to the UK? And then like I couldn’t I got scared, like, very scared, like just like maybe for moments that they might not let me leave the country, you know, and because, like, we live in a corrupted country so, like, you never know. You can, you can’t really tell if what eh how how they are going to deal with this. You know, like, you can’t really. Yeah, nothing. Nothing, nothing is, uh, uh, guarantee like there, you know? Like you don’t know, like nothing is promised. You don’t know that they could they could like and I if they, eh if they stopped me and uh they didn’t allow me like to leave the country, I wouldn’t have been able to do anything. Nothing.
OK, any incidents happened in in after you arrive to the airport? Was it Heathrow?
No, it was in Beirut.
You know, I mean I mean, after you came here.
Yeah. Does it, did anything happen in Heathrow because I know, like you told us about Beirut.
Did anything happen in Heathrow after you arrived in the UK?
No. I was just like, very happy, like, you know.
Yeah. So like, like it went smoothly. You just like you passed the border is…
Very, very, very.
Yeah. Can you tell us about, like, the, um the period after that?
The period after that yeee..
Can I ask you like what type of visa did you come, did you take to come to the UK?
No I can’t? OK.
It’s a tourist visa.
Yeah. Yeah. We can we can mention this in the you know?
Yeah, yeah Of course. Of course.
Yeah. Ok. Yeah
Yeah we just like, yeah.
No no you can mention. It’s like I’m talking about it so you can mention.
Yeah, yeah. Ok. Thank you. So yeah. So...
Yeah I got a tourist visa. I came here. I broke my visa. It’s not I broke it like I broke in a way I didn’t really like pass the visa duration. But what happened, that I arrived after two month I applied, uh, I applied for uh an asylum seeker application. So after after two months I arrived, I seeked for asylum so automatically, like they are going to cancel the tourist visa and you’re going to be an asylum seeker.
Yeah. That’s it.
Did you get the permission to work or?
No, no. You cannot work. You cannot work. Like, it’s different. Like I think we spoke about that, that they give you, like, the permission to work. I didn’t I did. I didn’t have this.
So like for a year like and yeah. And I was very scared, to be honest. After I got deported from Dubai, I didn’t really want to do anything that put that kind of puts me like in trouble or something, just like from the fear of being deported again.
Yeah. Yeah, I totally understand.
Um, so yeah so like you applied, you applied for asylum?
You weren’t you weren’t allowed to work?
I wasn’t allowed to work.
How was your situation after that?
It was fuck a fucked up situation. I’m sorry for the word.
Let’s use another word that like yeah.
Yeah, you can, you can cut it (inaudible)
Yeah. But I’m not finding like any word like to replace that just like…
Yeah. It was like a horrible situation let’s say.
It wasn’t a horrible situation. It was a fucked up situation.
Ok OK, yeah.
Yeah, ask me.
Yeah, I mean, like what what happened? What did you do? Like how did you live? Where did you live? Where did you go?
OK, how did I live? OK, for the first three months, I was staying like with friends that were too nice to me. Like, they accommodated me and hosted me, like for over than three month. And then like I had like to leave from there. I went to migrant organize where I was supported by key workers, and then they introduced me like through a housing scheme to two lovely girls, Matilda and Sarah, who accommodate me, like for almost like 50 days. Then I experienced homelessness like for two nights, and then I went to Dulwich. Then here, like the Home Office accepted, like just like to give me an accommodation after like a struggle and a lot of work from my migrant’s organize they have done and I stayed in a church in Dulwich. It was like, now thinking about it, it was really a beautiful moment, just like to see all the asylum seekers like to hear their stories, you know, like hearing stories like it was so and it was so inspiring, just like to see these people coming and to be honest, like, I think, uh, I think uh looking if I if I really want like to speak about it, it was just heartbreaking. And seeing all these people coming and with children and with their families. And you forget, like for certain, for point, you forget about your case and you start, like, worrying about others.
Yeah, and then after I left from Dulwich. I left to (coughs) I’m sorry.
I left to Mitcham. I don’t know if you know Mitcham.
Yeah, I know Mitcham, yeah.
I stayed in Mitcham for almost like two months then I…
What kind of accommodations do you you have in Mitcham? Was it was also from migrant help?
No, no, no, no, no. Migrants organize like helped me. Like, OK, migrants organize helped me before uh like to get like the whole school room for refugees with these two girls. Then like they made a lot of work just like to get the Home Office, like to give me an accommodation. They gave it to me and in Dulwich OK.
And then I went to Mitcham and then.
So the office moved you from Dulwich to Mitcham?
Yeah, yeah. Because it was just like a temporary accommodation.
It wasn’t like permanent. And I had just like to stay like until they find me like the right accommodation.
Yeah, yeah, yeah.
And then like I wasn’t feeling comfortable there and I was harassed by someone in the house and I’m not feeling about I’m not feeling like talking about what happened.
So uh then, um, and then like I left. I experienced like homelessness like for almost like three or four months again. I was sleeping here and there, here and there, here and there. My stuff were in a place, like my medication were in another place. I was like just like moving all alone. I had like to sleep sometimes, like in the bus, you know, like it’s just like, OK, to be honest, I’m not going to make it a lot of drama. I had just like for one night to sleep on the bus, but but but it was great. We all know it was great. Like think about like from now from these circumstances it was great. Back at the moment it wasn’t fun at all. And then like eh after four month, the home office, like uh, said that they are not going like to house me. Then the migrants organized here, uh um,eh helped me like to find a solicitor. We took the home office to court.
I left, OK. we took it up. It’s not we took the home office to court. We took the case to court and then the judge ordered the Home Office to accommodate me in a self-contained studio flat in 24 hours.
And then I stayed there until I got my refugee status in November. Before November I got a full scholarship to do my Master’s in directing fiction. So I started like here studying and I was like here in Oxbridge. So it’s like you think about it, I just like moved all around London, you know. I got my refugee status after that. Then like, I moved migrants organized again. The awesome Francesco Valerio helped me like. And do you know, like this woman seriously? Like this woman who has a lot of patience? You know, I’m not an easy person to deal with. I’m definitely not an easy person to deal with. And I was like calling her just like sometimes like she’s not a psychologist, you know, like telling her about my problems, like throwing everything. And she was like just like, yeah, she’s she’s really recessive, you know, like recessive or receptive we say.
Like she’s a good listener you mean?
Yeah yeah yeah.
I think she she she is like she eh can uh really, uh, she she she got like a lot of patience. Like.
I think like so I think uh where were we like in the story?
When you were like when you when you found her and she was helping you with the case?
Yeah, she was helping me like with the case. And uh, yeah. Yeah. She found me another like through the same housing housing scheme. She found me uh another host uh who was supposed to be for a few month. I stayed with them like for a year and almost three month.
How long how much time did the whole application take for you to get a decision like your asylum application for you to get a decision?
Just like for a year and two months. That was like something awesome. You know, like people wait for years and years. This is what and but now I’m saying this back back like with the days. I was like telling my solicitor that it’s just taking like too long. It took too long and she was “Zuheir, you took it. You got your refugee status in just a year and two months, that’s like magically.” And I didn’t have to go to court with the Home Office, just like to appeal.
Like the home office straightly like I gave me the decision, which is like I’m really grateful for this. So people like when I was in Oxbridge, I heard some people waiting for seven years and eight years and they didn’t get their, uh, the verdict. The verdict, I think.
Yeah, yeah. OK, I just I just wanna shed the light here on your your medical condition- HIV. During this time, did you like did you receive all the treatments?
I received the treatment even when I was tourist.
So when I arrived, like to the UK, uh, I had like to go to the clinic and it was 16th Street. So, uh, I was really very happy with the NHS work. Like the first thing they asked me if I’m HIV positive, I said yes. Are they asking do you have enough treatment? I said I do have to just like for a month, but like the problem and then they said, uh we’re going to give you, like, treatments. And then I said, I’m still a tourist because I don’t know. And then they said, it doesn’t matter if you are a tourist, if you are a resident, what matters is you are a human and you need medication. And they gave me like for six month medication, you know, this like it cost a lot of money.
I know. </i
And, you know, like it’s not like why they are going, like, to give it to you. Like, I wasn’t really used for this, you know, like coming from my country and, you know, better like how we are treated in our country.
You know. So it’s just like something I got I got very emotional, to be honest. And that’s give me it gave me like, hope, like in uh in the future. And it gave me, it made me realize it’s not realize like it uh is like (noises) OK, pass I don’t know. Yeah.
I want to ask it like if you want to compare the like when, when you did the um, when you had the treatment here, if you want to compare like the whole process to what you had in Beirut?
It’s, it’s is the same. What they were doing in Beirut was the same was doing here. Like here they are not going doing like something like magically like, you know, like it’s the same like, you know so I cannot really eh eh eh pftt
Criticized Beirut for not providing things?
Yeah. Yeah, Beirut….
Beirut they do?
They pro- yeah, they provide the medication you know, and uh it was for free as well- the medication. But like doing the medical test was like expensive. Here, like it’s for free. But like if I really want to speak about like the medicine in Beirut like, it’s great. So it’s almost like here or in Beirut it was the same thing.
So I cannot like really speak anything about that.
< i> Um, going back to the to the period where you were an asylum seeker and having like all the challenges and all the difficulties?
No continue. Go ahead.
Where was I? Sorry, yeah I got distracted.
Should I remove my cigarette?
Is there? No, that’s fine. Eh is there something in particular you think about often when you remember these events like these like this period when you were eh an asylum seeker? When you were like in the in the process?
In the process?
Is there like like a particular thing that you think about every time you think about that period of time?
Uh. Um nothing has come into my mind at the moment, but I think I remember the whole process, you know, but nothing in particular.
I cannot like because like every second.
Yeah, but it could be like it could be, for example, something happy. It could be something that you didn’t feel good about or something. Yeah. You know what I mean. So it could be like anything but like it’s fine if you don’t have an answer for that.
Yeah. I don’t really have an answer. Do you think, I’m sorry like to say this, like, you can cut it like and edit. Can I have a beer?
Uh, yeah sure.
OK, just to say say say I’m just, would you like one?.
We can we can, like, we can, we can pause it now if you…
No. That’s fine. Would you like to have one.
No, I’m fine, thank you.
Um, you’re ready?
Yes, I’m ready.
Just a second is there any charger next to you?
Uh, there’s my charger? Is it the same one? This is type C?
It’s oK, and I think it’s just not going to pause it quickly.
It’s my phone. It’s not your fault. Yeah, you’re not. (Spoken in Arabic translated by interviewer) Dammit Babe! Please, please get up from there and sit here.
(Spoken in arabic translated by interviewer.) Ok ok!
OK, we’re back from the break. Um, ok, uh so that’s like the whole thing that you went through during the asylum application or process does it affect you today in any way? </i
Of course it traumatized me. You know, it traumatized like me in a way…
How? It was just like looking for uh something, you know? And this is life like always like you’re working on something and during the process, there are like too many factors that traumatize you and this is like the big challenge. This is like the strength that you get after every process because like it’s a learning experience.
Amazing. Um, could you ever have imagined that you would have been able to handle that situation?
You ask me about this question.
You asked me before about this question.
No, we talked about the other things, like we were talking about your current events and then now I’m talking about something totally different. We’re talking about your past. We’re talking about like the the uh like the asylum application.
Yeah. No, now we’re talking about the asylum or the past?
Which yeah, the asylum process is part of the past of your past.
So I’m talking about your current situation.
OK, so I said like before that what happened with me in Beirut gave me enough strength that I felt I’m going to be able to face these challenges so I had faith in my in me, if you want that, I can face these challenges. So I knew it because, you know, like we say something in French like a friend like actually like said it which means who has nothing to lose is always the strongest.
So, yeah, I have I had nothing to do lose.
OK,um so it was it was mainly just like the strength that you got from being, from living in Beirut, like?
It was just that? Um, OK. da da da da dahh. OK, so I have a question now and please, I want you to answer.
Well just you have a question now? What was before it was?
I mean, like have I have another like another type of question.
OK, so so eh I want you to answer with before the war, not before the war, but before, like,
Sorry Sorry, I had to look I was reading from here.
That was because that was for someone else. Before before you decided to leave home.
Before I decided to leave home. Like which phase?
Like when you didn’t have the idea of leaving home, like, let’s say.
OK, OK, I got you.
Let’s say 10 years ago.
OK, 10 years ago.
Yeah, let’s say that.
Eh, what was your dream? And I want you to say, for example, 10 years ago, my dream was I want you to start your answer with this sentence ok?
Being in a film festival, which my film.
I want you to start the answer with 10 years ago, my dream was..
10 years ago, my dream was taking an award in a film festival.
OK, amazing. Um, OK, now, when you were leaving your country.
Ehh, what was your dream for the future when you were leaving?
OK, I’m sorry, am I being rude when I’m talking?
What do you mean?
Am I rude when I’m speaking?
OK, OK. Because someone like just like rude shouldn’t be traumatizing him, I think. OK.
OK, I’m sorry. I’m just like being myself.
Yeah, yeah, yeah, I want, I want you to be yourself.
Um so, yeah. So like, when you were leaving your country, what was your dream for the future? I want you to answer with “I dreamt that when I was leaving my country”.
When I was leaving my country, I had the dream of being on the red carpet, taking an award and a film festival. That was like, if you’re going to ask me, like a hundred questions about what what was my dream, I’m going to answer, like, the same thing, because that was like I always say, it’s nothing or everything. Maybe it’s it’s greedy to say this that I want or you can say some people like to find me like selfish because, quote, I want nothing or it’s everything, you know, and the everything is like, so you like making films.
So this is like my one and only dream.
So that’s it?
That’s it yeah yeah yeah, that’s it.
OK, OK. Amazing. Now we got to the last part of this interview.
How many questions?
Just four questions.
Four questions. OK.
Yes. Before leaving your home country, what would you describe as your strengths?
Before leaving my home country?
Yes. Your strengths.
My being so hypersensitive.
Have you maintained this- this quality?
In which way?
Do you still have it?
In which way?
Are you still hyper, hypersensitive?
Yeah, of course I’m still hypersensitive because, like, let’s face it, like people don’t change. They develop a strength. And my hypersensitivity yesterday was different from today because it’s not because of something, because the circumstances that we live in make you or push you to develop your abilitie.
This is exactly what I mean. Thank you so much. Um OK, so what you’ve been through like is really seems really difficult OK?
Um, do you feel like you have grown in any way as a result of this like this experience that you had? Um, do you think there’s anything positive at all that came out of it?
Yeah. Of course
Can you tell me about it?
The fact that I’m positive was the most positive thing that happened and came out of it.
Yeah, well, like I’m talking here about like you like you growing after you have these experiences, like, do you feel like especially after you came to the U.K.?
So I’m like, yeah, I’m quite sure like, you know, like there are sides of like of you, your personality, let’s say you’re way of thinking uh you are like the way of dealing with things, you know?.
But people grow, I think like with time, like every day people grow, are growing. It’s not something that we are in control. Like people grow like with time. So, in fact, of whether, if I was in the U.K. or in Lebanon, I’m going to be growing. But like being in the U.K. made me grow in a different way if I was in Beirut.
Yeah, can you tell me about this, like.
I can’t tell.
How did you grow like?
I can’t I can’t.
Like what is the side of you that you think that you feel that?
Yeah. Um, OK, good. So now you’re more patient?
(laughs) Not very.
Not with me lets say…not with me.
I’m trying hard OK.
It’s going OK.
OK, I’m going to ask you this again. But like I said, I need to ask whether it is the same answer or not. It’s fine. OK. </i
Not very patient. OK.
Yeah I know. But like now the answer is about eh, yeah the answer. Sorry the question is about your hopes and dreams for the future now.
If it’s the same answer you can say it. That’s fine. That’s totally fine.
I just want you to answer with my dream is.
My dream is to get to the thirty first of this month, to be on the red carpet, going to the film festival to receive my award.
OK, wait where is that?
It’s on the thirty first of October.
I think it’s World Cinema in south east London at London Rocks Film Festival.
Yeah, I won like the best LGBTQ plus film.
Can you tell us a little bit about this, because I think we didn’t talk about this?
About the film or the festival?
About the film, about the festivals, if you can just like tell us very briefly, because I told you this is like the last part of the interview.
Like, I’m OK. I received, like, my scholarship when I told you, like, before getting my refugee status.It was like a scholarship for scholarship for my master’s degree in directing fiction at such a film school. In order to graduate I had like to make film, a short film, and the film was selected to screen in five festivals. I received two awards like an Outstanding Achievement Award for the best student male director from IndieX Film Festival L.A.. I received the best LGBTQ Plus Film in London Rocks Film Festival. And the film as a psychological melodrama about two gay men, Alex and Steve. Alex and Steve are two gay men. They meet, uh Steve is dying in the hospice from cancer and Alex wants to see him. The film follows Alex on his journey to find the hospice. When Alex gets there, Steve is unconscious and does not recognize Alex for three consecutive days. Alex is going every day to the hospice and speaking to Steve while he’s in the coma. And until he dies, until Steve dies and during like there is like a jump from between, like the past and the present. And, yeah,I won’t give more.
Yeah ok, amazing. Thank you so much. Um, I really appreciate your answer, your answers. And you answering all these questions and for being patient with me. Um is there anything you’d like to add that might help people in Europe better understand the life of refugees here?
I cannot like add something. I can share my experience and through my experience or people are going to relate and identify with me or not, but I cannot really add something to say I’m going to do this for others. So from my side and being an artist, a filmmaker, art is all about sharing. I can share my experience. I can tell my story. I cannot say that, hey, like this is what you’re going to add to your life. It’s none of my business. I cannot, people are different, you know, like I can tell my story and it’s up to you. It’s not it’s up to you. It’s all you identify and you relate with me or you don’t. So I think I spoke enough about the story.
Ok, well, thank you so much for this interview.
Thank you so much. Thank you so much. Thank you for everyone who was watching as well. And let’s finish this
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.