‘Life is what you make of it’

PORTRAIT 21 – LESVOS – KARA TEPE – JULY 2016

“My heart loves everyone. Every day I pray to Allah and ask him to give every human a good life here on earth.” Despite the situation she’s in, she radiates love and energy. “We try to feel good here. My daughter works in the tea house, I teach: Arabic and Geography. My two other daughters are by now translators working in Mytilini.”

“We arrived to Lesvos on March 19, one day before the deal which was made with Turkey came into effect. We hope to be able to further travel to another country in Europe. Life in this camp is do-able: the water from the showers is cold, other than that it’s ok. Some refugees are very depressed, all they do every day is whine. But that isn’t going to change anything now is it? Life is what you make of it.”

Portret 21- Lesbos ©Vluchtelingen in Europa - 1 (1)

She once married a man who treated her very badly. A few years ago she found the courage to divorce him. After which she fled to Turkey where she stayed for over a year. “To build up a life there is very difficult. You can’t do business or rent a house.” It is for these reasons that she eventually decided to take a huge risk and cross by boat, along with her three daughters aged 16, 19 and 25. “This is the best choice. I want them to have the opportunity to study and grow up further in a free country, without oppression.”

She payed a high price for the divorce. Her youngest daughter (13) and her son (20) still live with her ex-husband and his by now second wife in Turkey. Whether she’ll ever see them again is uncertain.
Her oldest daughter, who translates her Arabic words when she can’t come up with the English ones, was also a victim. She was married for just two months but her father disapproved of her husband and kidnapped him. Up to this day they have no idea of his whereabouts or if he’s even still alive..

She jumps up unexpectedly. Two families who she knows well are about to leave to Athens for their asylum interview. She embraces them tightly and waves goodbye extensively. She’s a little sad because these families stayed here shorter than she and because she’ll miss them greatly. “Inshallah, we’ll follow soon.”

Would you like to know more about the circumstances in Lesvos? Read: About Lesvos

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