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Blogger without borders: Refugee stories, Part 3

The third and final installment of “Blogger without borders: Refugee stories,” where junior Bianca Al-Shamari shares refugees’ stories that are translated from Farsi, Russian and Mongolian.

A section of an Austrian refugee camp in Schwechat houses men, women and children in make-shift bedding. Refugees, over 80 individuals in total, were placed under a mass tent set up by local volunteers. Photo by Bianca Al-Shamari.

Interview #1 – Farsi

Andeshir Naziri came to Austria from Afghanistan with his wife, daughter and son, all while experiencing health issues. The family continues to assimilate in any way possible.

“It’s difficult because I have an illness,” Naziri said. “I have a mental condition [nervous illness] and a heart condition. My daughter needs ear surgery and my wife has herniated disks in her back. These have been the difficulties of life since we came to Austria.”

Interview #2 – Farsi

Mohammad Ehsan and his wife, 13-year-old daughter and 15-year-old son are from Mazar-e-Sharif, a province in Afghanistan that is in the midst of political turmoil.

“In Kunduz [a nearby city], they [ISIS] were taking women and girls with them which was causing great concern for all the people of Afghanistan,” Ehsan said. “Furthermore, the government took inappropriate political actions by not properly attacking against DAESH [ISIS]. They [government] would block and prevent things and engage in corruption and bribery. All this contributed to the people becoming restless and anxious and many, after the Taliban took Kunduz, were homeless.”

The family soon fled to Turkey to obtain a visa from the Turkish Consulate.

“I wanted to leave the country and come to Turkey for the safety of my children, and then from Turkey I got in touch with a smuggler,” Ehsan said. “On the same day that we arrived in Turkey, he took us to the jungle in the evening and that night in the woods we waited for a ship. The next day we got on board a boat in dangerous conditions, with cross winds and with approximately 53 people. We arrived to the island of ‘Mesrini,’ then, after being near Klini, arrived in Greece. There we received departure permits, and we went from Mesrini to Macedonia, from Macedonia by train to Serbia. From Serbia by means of motor, caravan and train, we arrived to a train in Austria.”

Ehsan and his family now have a home and basic living necessities after arriving in Austria in late September. His two children are successfully enrolled into a neighboring school, Bundesgymnasium und Bundesrealgymnasium Schwechat, and are learning German with the help of volunteers in the Schwechat city community every week.

“Life here [Austria] is good,” Ehsan said. “There is safety for the children and things are better. We have bread and money. For us, the main issue is safety, specifically the safety of my wife and children, so that the children can successfully go to school. Thanks to God. We are in hope that this war and insecurity will be cleared from our homeland and that we might be able to once again return with dignity.”

Interview #3 – Farsi

Milad Hashemi arrived in Austria from Afghanistan with his sister and her sister’s husband in early September.

“In the name of God the merciful, my name is Milad. My family name is Hashemi. We had a long trip to get here. Our current condition and the condition of our country is not so good. Day-by-day, there were many killed and injured. We couldn’t easily go to the bazaar [market] or travel around town. Every minute you could see killings and war and everything. In brief, it was not a happy life for us in Afghanistan.”

Hashemi feared each day in Afghanistan.

“It was difficult to go out. When we would go out, there was no guarantee we would come back. Life was tough within the country. If you left in the morning, you had no hope you would return at night. Only war, death and carnage.”

The family hopes to find a better life in Austria.

“So far we’ve arrived in Austria. It’s a good country, we’re pleased being here. So far, we’re living here to see what God will want. If they allow us, we’ll continue living here.”

Interview #4 – Mongolian

The following interview was carried out in Russian with two Mongolian sisters. Ninety percent of the population speaks the official language of Khalkha Mongolian in Mongolia, but Russian is a common second language.

The two sisters, Uchrava and Urunduks, left Mongolia in early August to join their older sister and her husband in Vienna. The sisters sought business opportunities in Austria after they noticed their educational progress dwindle during Mongolia’s economic decline.

Uchravna: “We arrived here in Austria three months ago. My sister lives here with her husband, so my little sister and I left Mongolia to live with her. She [Urunduks] studies business. In a year, I still want to be living in Austria, with my sister [Urunduks]. I want to study here. I need to find work but there are no jobs.”

Urunduks: “In Mongolia, I was working on business. I want to study here and Austria and continue my work. Right not what I need to learn is how to speak Deutsch [German] for business.”

Uchravna: “Some of our family still lives in Mongolia. My sister and her husband live here, and we are with them. Our parents are gone. In six months, I hope to still be living here in Austria, and in a year as well. My goal is to learn German and go into business again. Some of my family is still in Mongolia, but my parents are no longer with me.”

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