“We finally felt safe in Greece” #OpenTheIslands

“We finally felt safe in Greece”

An Afghan refugee, J., 54, and his wife, F, 45, tell us about their journey to Greece, the difficulties and the life they lived in, until the much-needed asylum.

“We decided to leave Afghanistan because life was difficult there.  I couldn’t leave my wife and child to walk around by themselves.  I felt happy when we first set foot on the island of Lesvos. Greece is a safe country while other countries like Afghanistan, Syrian, Iraq and Turkey are not. We arrived on October 25, 2016. Once in Moria we felt awful because there was so much fighting in Moria.

Four months after arriving we moved over to the Kara Tepe camp. We felt better because there wasn’t any fighting in the camp. However there was not electricity and the food was not varied or well cooked. Furthermore there was no pre-school for my 3 year old daughter. The toilet facilities were also bothersome because hot water for a shower is sporadic and the toilet is a walk away from the home.

After a while we began to participate in the activities offered in the camp. For example, we happily attended English and Greek classes offered by Caritas Hellas as well as their activities like knitting and crocheting in Caritas Hellas’ Women Safe Space. We also enjoyed the guitar lessons. Every weekend we felt depressed because the classes were offered by Caritas only during the week!

If we had stayed in a flat in Mytilene instead of the camp, we would have enjoyed the kitchen and the toilet but maybe we would have had to share the space with another family or two! That would have been quite difficult for us.

It was difficult for us to wait for such a long time for the decision  to our asylum application and to live in a refugee camp.  We felt nervous during this period. But we were very happy to learn after 1 year that we had been accepted here in Greece. It was a wonderful feeling to have a new country: we finally felt safe when we first arrived and upon being granted asylum, we felt doubly safe!

We have always had in mind to move on to Athens. A brother and a sister live there and we know that there are many Afghans there who have opened small businesses. So we want to find jobs and a house and for our daughter to go to school. Above all we want a good life for our daughter!

Greece is a good country but it is going through economic difficulties. Other European countries give more support to people like us. In one year we must support ourselves and so we really need jobs. This makes us worried because we are not fluent in Greek or English.

Above all, I am happy that this country is safe for our family and that my wife and child can move around freely without my presence. Our wish for the future is that we will find employment, a nice house to live in and a good future for our young daughter”!