Photo by Elias Sharifi

A home for those who wait

Once again, many of us have spent the year as residents of one of the refugee reception centres around Greece. These offer a temporary home to those of us who live in them, waiting to be sent to another country. Many people are looking for both legal and illegal ways of getting to Western Europe, but meanwhile what is daily life in the camp like? What is it like to live in Greece, waiting for a better tomorrow?

You need a lot of patience to live in a camp. We can’t settle in Greece because there is no refugee programme, so we have to move on to some other country. We feel unsure about our future. In this article, refugees describe the patience they have to endure, in their own words.

Mr Sarifi 44 years old

I used to live in the camp at Malakasa with my family, but for a while now I am living there alone, waiting to be reunited with them in Germany. I am waiting for whatever way I can find to join them. It isn’t easy to be patient in the Malakasa camp. There is no security here, none, not even at the gate. Anyone can just walk in without permission. All the trouble and tension just make matters worse. If you ask me, the unification with my family is long overdue. I have recently shown a lot of patience and I have been trying to improve relations between people in the camp so that they do not argue. I am known as “white beard”, the wise man of the camp.

Z 17 years old

I have been living in Thiva camp for the past two years. I come from Afghanistan. I am waiting here patiently, my future unknown. I originally wanted to be reunited with my brother, but our request was turned own. We were obliged to stay in Greece and request asylum. We are still waiting to be issued with passports and it seems that we will have to wait for months if not years. I try to keep busy with school, exercise, football and painting, until this wait is over. Being patient is not easy, mainly because there are single unaccompanied boys living side by side with the families in the camp at Thiva, and this creates tensions. The police ignore us. It is even harder for women and girls to be patient. My message to those living in the camps is to do things that are good for them, like going to school and concentrating on their lessons. They shouldn’t waste their time on petty matters and they should live with the hope that they will end up where they want to, and that they won’t need to be patient for much longer.

Jafar Ali

I live in Schisto camp, which is close to Piraeus and Athens. I came to Greece a year and a half ago and now I am living in this camp. Not just the unaccompanied minors like myself, but all refugees are waiting to leave Greece and go to another European country. Everyone believes that the camp is a temporary home for those who wait and that one day they will be able to leave it. Life in the camp is difficult for everyone and I can tell you for certain that we all have psychological issues because of the situation. I go to English and Greek classes and I hope to improve both. I originally went to a Greek school, but I didn’t know the language, so I decided to learn it first then attend a proper school. My message to all refugees is to be patient and keep on trying. I hope whoever reads this article will understand the psychological problems and all the other issues we face. They should be brave, to continue their studies, learn as much as possible and make progress. I hope they have understood.

Mohammad Sharif Rahmani

Mohammad Nasim Haidari