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The Paly Voice

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Blogger without borders: Refugee stories, Part 1

The first installment of “Blogger without borders: Refugee stories,” where junior Bianca Al-Shamari shares refugees’ stories that are translated from Arabic. 

Interview #1

This is an interview with a Syrian family from the city of Rek’ka. The father spoke more often than the children present: Jomana, Shaima, Ali and Hammody, who are all less than 11 years old. Jomana, the eldest of the four, is learning German and hopes to enroll into school for 2016.

Father: “We ran away from ISIS and the bombardment. The children couldn’t go to school, and the girls had to constantly wear a Hijab for their safety. The airplanes [Air Forces] bombed everywhere. Our town was controlled by ISIS. They slaughtered people. There was bombardment by the air forces and houses were destroyed. There were no schools, and nowhere to go. They beat people, and they whipped people. Now that we’re safe in Austria, we’re going to stay here. That is our situation, a tragic situation. Here in Europe, it’s better and the kids can go to school.”

Jomana, age 11: “We went to the Turkish borders from Syria by a boat, and then we walked our way to Austria through Macedonia, Serbia and Greece.”

Upon request of the family, last names, photos and audio files are not available.

Interview #2

Upon request of the individual, his name is to be kept private but gender pronouns are allowed. This man lost his family in violent attacks throughout Iraq, and ventured to Austria alone. Initially en route to Germany, he decided to stay in Austria upon his arrival in Vienna, in hopes of building a life in the city of Schwechat.

“The journey took about 20 days. My situation was very bad, and I could not stay in Iraq. I was a normal citizen. I dared to take the risk and move to Austria since it is more secure for me. I swear to God, life is beautiful. I do not have family. I am living alone.”

Interview #3

Al-Khalifawi arrived in Austria in late August, leaving his family behind. He plans to bring his family to safety once he secures a life in Austria, but describes the process as “a paper mess and a constant worry.” Al-Khalifawi does not know where his family is, yet remains determined and hopeful for a future in which they will be reunited.

“My name is Erkan Ibrahim Al-Khalifawi and I come from Iraq. My journey to Austria took about 2 weeks. The current situation in my country is really bad and it is getting worse. I feel secure where I am, but my family is at the moment in Iraq. I am really worried about them. I left them at a place that is almost secure, near Kurdistan. Because my family is in an unknown place, life in the upcoming 6 months is unknown for me.”

Thank you to Martina Entriken, Noor Al-Shamary, Donnesh Farman, Naram El-shamary, and Hind Hassan Alshamary for written translations. And to Hassan Kathem for spoken translations that assisted in linking two worlds.

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