Report of an interview with Qasem,
a refugee who had to flee from his country of origin

“As we passed the border of Hungary, the border officials were trying to shoot us. At that point I really had fear of death.”

That is the sentence which stayed clear in my mind after my interview with Qasem, a 17-year-old boy from Iran who had to flee to Europe because of his religion and the situation in his country of origin.

At the beginning of the interview Qasem was still a little bit shy and insecure, but from the longer we talked the more open he got and really talked about everything he had to go through.

Qasem was born in Afghanistan, but he cannot remember that country very well because he and his parents, they had to flee to Iran when he was about one year old. But even when they arrived in Iran the situation did not get any better. The Iranian people did not accept Qasem and his family because in the Iranians´ view they had the wrong religion and only were some strangers from another country.

Qasem also told me that even the police officers punished him because of his religion.

At some point his family decided not to go on like that and to save all their money to be able to pay the people smugglers, who promised to bring Qasem to Europe, if he payed 4000 €.

When he paid the money, the y drove him to the Turkish border, where they told him to go on on his own. He told them that he was really scared, when he passed the border illegally.

After that he went on a really small and old boat from Turkey to Greece. That little boat was really crowded and it did not seem very safe. “I was so happy when I arrived in Greece, being alive”, he said at that point.

After that he walked another two days without having any accommodation for the night or having any food until he came to an asylum for refugees, while waiting for his documents to be checked.

According to him, the situation in the asylum must have been very bad.

He told about many conflicts caused by the lack of food or the different religions the escaped people had.

But the worst thing in his view was the insufficient space for sleeping. So he and some other people, who were accommodated there as well decided to build their own little “sleeping-box”, they prepared at the outside, where they had enough space to sleep.

After one week his documents were checked and he was able to move on.

Qasem and some other people he got to know in Greece went to Serbia via Macedonia by foot.

According  to Qasem it took about two weeks to go there. Two weeks sleeping on the ground, being at the mercy of the weather; two weeks without having any time to have a break; two weeks without having any roof over their heads.

About two weeks later they arrived at the border to Hungary.

When they passed it, the officers started to shoot at them and Qasem told me that they just started to run for their lives.

“As we passed the border of Hungary the border officials were trying to shoot us. At that point I really had fear of death. I was so happy when I realised I was still alive after passing the border.”, he said.

After that Qasem moved on to Austria, where he was able to take a bus to Germany, where he was forced to go to an accommodation in Hochheim, a little town near Frankfurt.

As I asked him how he feels, being in Germany, he said that he is actually very happy to be here and that he has finally made it, but also that he is still very alone here in Germany.

He is missing his parents, who are still living in Iran. He seemed very sad, as he told me that he knows that he will never see his parents again.

He also mentioned that it was very difficult for him to learn the German language and that he still has problems with it, but I think his German was nearly perfect. He even knew a few sayings, which really impressed me.

Nevertheless, he also said that there are a lot of things he really likes in Germany.

He was really happy about having some friends in Germany, who he is always playing football with or learning for school with.

He even told me that he has found a girlfriend in Germany, who is always there for him, if he needs someone to talk or if he has any problems.

For him the best of Germany is that most people accept him and are respectful towards him.

He really rejoices, finally being in a peaceful country, as Germany is.

In my opinion Qasem is a really nice and first of all a very strong guy.

It needs a lot of strength to leave your home, your family and all your friends and to begin a completely new life in a completely new country, without knowing anyone.

I was really impressed by his determination to work very hard to get a good work and a good education in Germany. First he wants to complete secondary modern school, then he wants to do his secondary school certificate and after that he has even the plan to do his technological baccalaureate certificate. In my opinion, that deserves a lot of respect.

After that interview I noticed that we are actually really lucky to live in a country like Germany, with good opportunities in life and that our problems are not really important compared to the problems of people who have to flee because of war or the bad situation in their countries of origin.

We really should do something to help people who are having real problems in life, like refugees have.

Not only the big things are helping, every little thing you do can help.

To be honest, we are living in quite rich countries, in that we are having very good chances to achieve something good in life.

Many people have not been born in such a country with such good opportunities, so I think it is our responsibility to give something back to those people and to help whenever we have the chance to help.

That also means that we really should accept people who flee from other countries and that we should give them a new home and do everything to make them feel welcome in Europe.