My name is Rabia, I am 19 years old and come from Iraq from a city called Sinjar. At the moment I live with my brother and sister in Cologne Godorf, Germany. My homeland Iraq was once a beautiful country, today it is no longer as it once was. It’s war and death. Poverty is widespread everywhere in the country. The people of Iraq are very sad.
Peace has left the country, there are rules, but they do not fit the people or the nation. The situation in Iraq is not good.
Sinjar is a small town, I lived there with my family among many other large families. I am not Arab, but such things are not important to me, I always feel like a citizen of Iraq, like an Arab citizen.
The conflicts in Iraq started in 2014, I remember I was at school and prepared for an exam the day before.
I prepared my pens and my papers in the morning to go to school, on the way there it happened, a bomb exploded in Mosul, everything was cancelled, there was no school anymore. On the way to school my friends told me, they said: “From now on there is no school and no more lessons.”
Until that day we did not know the war, we did not hear anything from it, until that day I never thought about fleeing.
On the way home I felt a fear that burned me inside. After that day, more and more terrorists have spread to Iraq, a catastrophe that was the reason for the destruction of Iraq.
That is why we decided to flee from Iraq to Germany. ISIS conquered more and more places in Iraq, killing the men and raping the women. I saw them from a distance, what they looked like? It’s hard to describe… It can’t be put into words. Their cars, they were jeeps, I could see from a distance.
People everywhere were screaming, crying, looking for escape from their villages. Everyone waited to be able to flee, there was no security anymore in Iraq, a life there meant great danger. People without cars fled to the mountains, those with cars flee to the Kurdish area in Iraq.
On the way up the mountain there was a water tank, on foot it was almost impossible to reach the Kurdish part of Iraq. Imagine you are surrounded by rifles, on the one hand the PKK protects you, on the other hand the ISIS fights you: More than 100 people died on foot, most of them children.
I was one of those who walked, we walked for a whole day until the sun went down. We arrived at a tree, this tree became our house for the next four months. We built a tent underneath. All helped each other, the richer ones gave us food, people from all over the world were gathered there. We are still very grateful to the people there. After four months we came to a camp, where I lived with my family. Circumstances in Iraq forced me to quit my school and go to work. I had attended the 10th grade, it would have been another three years until the high school graduation.
When we were in camp I was looking for work to finance my escape to Germany. For nine months I worked as an assistant for a carpenter. Slowly I was preparing to flee to Germany. Until today I have not received an identity card or a passport in Iraq, I only had a document on the stand that I am Iraqi citizen.
Iraq used to be a beautiful country, but the terrorists destroyed it. Germany is better, safer than Iraq.
I fled with my siblings, we went on foot to Turkey, there were also other families on the run. When I arrived in Turkey I was sad and happy at the same time, sad about the past and happy about security. If my parents had been with me, I’d just be happy and not sad. But they could not travel because the journey would have been too dangerous for them.
In Turkey we stayed two days and waited for a tugboat to take us to Greece, we had no other choice, we were dependent on the tugs.
After two days we found someone to take us by rubber boat to Greece, on the trip to Greece the engine stopped, we sat in the boat in the middle of the sea for four hours, we were scared to death. We had reached half and still needed half of the way to get to Greece, we were in the middle of the way.
We called the Sea Watch, these people saved people, they didn’t come, I don’t know why until today.
When the sun came up, we were at sea from two o’clock at night until six o’clock in the morning, the sea watch came, they helped us and brought us back to Turkey.
We stayed one day in Turkey, the next morning we found a new tugboat.
On the way to Greece the engine failed again, but this time we had more luck, one of the people in the boat knew himself with boats. He repaired the engine and we drove on. And thank God we arrived in Greece.
In Greece, people helped us and took us to an island, but I forgot their names. From there we took a ship to Macedonia, we stayed there for two days. From Macedonia we then drove via Serbia, to Croatia and then to Austria. From Austria we took the train to Germany.
We arrived at a place near Dortmund, they recorded our data, we got a room, there were a lot of people in one room, it was loud and you couldn’t sleep well.
After a while a transfer came and brought us to Cologne, in Cologne I lived first in a camp in Rodenkirchen, then in Porz and in Godorf.
Now I live in Godorf, in an apartment with my siblings.
To this day I am still amazed at how the people here live and how the people in Iraq live in this unclean state.
Here in Germany I feel life as a life in paradise, that’s what I really mean. Not just because of the weather or the rain.
The rules, the order in Germany.
There were rules in Iraq too, but the people didn’t make much of it. For example, there are traffic lights but nobody pays attention, people just walk across the street. In Germany there are rules and police officers and security, there are very good rules in Germany.
What I still like about Germany, it will make a lot of things possible for you. In Iraq I had a very strenuous life and even as a child I thought about how I should live later on. I asked myself: “How do I build a future for myself?”
I could not imagine a future because of the bad conditions in Iraq, because of poverty, I could not imagine it.
If someone went to school there, he had to work beside school, but everything is made possible here, it’s easier here, it’s nicer here.
I have many dreams, I have a dream but I don’t think I will reach it. For example, I always wanted to be a teacher, but it’s too late for that.
I have worked a lot in Iraq and therefore missed classes, today it is difficult for me to concentrate on the exams.
I lost five years of my life because of this war. I have the feeling that I have grown old, too old to achieve this goal.
Today I am in 10th grade, but what I want to achieve I am afraid I cannot achieve. I lack concentration. I wanted to play the guitar in Iraq but I didn’t have the money there, today I can maybe buy a guitar but I don’t have the time because of school, school and all my hobbies.
I have many hobbies, for example I like writing poems, but I don’t have time to play music.
My goals, I would like to graduate from high school and continue my studies at the university. And deep inside I would like to write books, books in High Arabic, if I can speak German I would like to translate the books into German.
How do I feel after the conversation?
I am happy because I have told, because the truth, there is nothing more beautiful than the truth, the truth without fear. For those who are afraid to tell their story, I recommend writing it.
Storyteller’s name: Rabia Khallaf
Interviewer’s name: Sarah El Desoke
Country of origin: Iraq
Dublin Core: Language: de Subject: refugees, asylum, Germany, Iraq, a million stories