Before 90 % of the Danes liked refugees, now 90 % dislike us

Muheildin, 31 years old, Afrin, Syria.

I lived with my family in Afrin, and from there I would go and work in Lebanon for 3 or 4 months at a time as a tiler and then go back and spend some time in the house of my family: I am Kurdish and Kurds historically have had problems in Syria, not a lot of problems, but enough…In 2014, I was home from Lebanon, when an official from the state told me that I would be called up, and that was the exact moment I decided to leave for Turkey where I lived for 6 months and planned my boat trip to Mytilini on Lesvos. We were 35 people in the small boat and at our first attempt we were taken back to Turkey by the police, but I managed to escape and later on that same night at my second attempt I finally made it in boat to Mytilini.

When I arrived to the island there were perhaps 5000 refugees, and around 400 to 500 would disembark every day while I was there. I met some very good people from the Red Cross, who gave me food, shoes and clothing and helped me buy the ticket for the ferry to Athens and from there I continued in bus to Macedonia and through the Balkans; people were generally quite nice, it was the police that treated us badly using medical face masks and body searches.

From the Balkans I continued in bus to Munich, where I was greeted by the police, who were really nice to us, together with a lot of other refugees. In Munich I called my brother who is living in Denmark, and he was so surprised and glad to hear that I had made it so far and that he actually was going to see me within a foreseeable future. I then travelled to Hamburg and then to Denmark, where I ended up in an asylum seekers camp and later I was sent to the centre Sommersted, where I lived for 6 months and got a group of friends.

But at Sommersted I also began to feel really ill. I had pain in the back and I was loosing weight and every day I went to the medical clinic. The doctor would tell me to take d-vitamin and drink lots of water and juice, but it did not help at all. And after 3 months of illness, I collapsed at the centre and was taken in ambulance to the hospital. I was unconscious first and after some days they told me that they would send me to Odense Universitetshospital, where I was informed that my poor health was a result of the bacteria that I had been exposed to on my journey from Syria.

After my discharge, I would still go to Odense Universitetshospital every month in a taxi from Sønderborg, and it costed thousands of kroner to go there in one day, but the Danish state paid for all those expenses. I lived for 6 months at the new asylum seekers centre in Sønderborg, where    I finally got my permanent residence permit after an interview that lasted for many hours. And I was just so relieved and content, and I celebrated it with my friends, whom I care a lot about and who came and visited me at the hospital and also had their expenses covered.
At the interview that led to my residence permit, I was asked where I wanted to live and I said that I wanted to live in Sønderborg or Silkeborg, but they decided to send me to Copenhagen instead, and I suppose that is ok, as I have a brother here. So I lived for another 6 months in a temporary housing before moving to my current apartment; it is an apartment that I share with two refugees, but it is sometimes complicated, because we have different lives and I just want my own place.

During spring, I had an internship at a restaurant for a period of 3 months and I really enjoyed it, because I was around Danish people and could practice my language skills. Even though I usually would just clean up the tables and arrange the cutlery I felt sad when it ended, because the job also made me feel that I was being a part of something and also more independent.

Life as a refugee is hard now: Before 90 % of the Danes liked refugees, now 90 % dislike us and I can feel it when I try to get into bars and clubs. It is also difficult to get at girlfriend, because the culture is different and the language is a challenge. But without a partner one gets psychologically ill at the end, because companionship is important.

If I have to say something to the government, it is related to the constant change of rules that we, the refugees, have to keep track of: It really makes me stressed and stress makes me not sleep and not eat enough and it really gets to me on the inside.

Dublin Core: Language: en Subject: a million stories, denmark, syria, refugee, lesbos, red cross,