We fled over the mountains by foot

Man, 39 years old, West Kurdistan (Iran)

As a result of the political situation in Iran, I decided to flee with my wife and children: We fled over the mountains by foot and it took us around 10 hours to reach Turkey where we went in bus to Izmir, which took us another 30 hours. And from Izmir we got out on the sea in a rubber dinghy that was 6 metres long and we were in total 40 persons on the boat.   I reached Mytilini with my family in the morning. We were all supposed to climb a steep slope,     but because one of our children was very young, some really nice people in a car gave us a lift to a  refugee camp on the island. At the camp there was a long queue of refugees who were waiting to get papers and buy the ticket for the ferry to Athens, and we joined the line for 1 and a half day and there were just so many refugees there. We ended up taking the ferry at night and we arrived to Athens when it was still dark. Perhaps it was exciting to be in a big city for my children and some of the other refugees, but I just felt a huge responsibility taking care of my family.

Out on the road in Athens the Red Cross guided us to the bus station, where we took a bus to Macedonia and from there to Serbia and then to Croatia, where there was a free train to Slovenia. And from there we continued to Austria and Germany. On the entire journey we usually would get some free food, and it would usually be something like bread and soup or canned food. I was sometimes hungry, because at times the food was simply not eatable.

In Germany we got into an asylum seekers centre late at night and it was dark and cold outside and the guy who was in charge asked me where we were going, and I answered that we wanted to go to Denmark, and he then said: “Go out and find the bus to Denmark!”. So we went outside, but luckily we met an Afghan man who persuaded the guy at the centre to give us a room for the night, which he agreed to do. And we slept there with 20 other refugees in a small room that ended up very crowded. In the morning our Afghan friend gave us a little piece of paper with the name of the bus station, so we could show it to people and let them know that we were looking for it.

We went to Hamburg in bus, and from there we took a train to Denmark, but it was stopped on the border by the police who had a Persian interpreter. We were greeted by the police man, who said that he was very happy that we were there and that we should not be afraid and I said that we had a train ticket to Copenhagen, and we were then offered to go on a free bus to Sandholmlejren instead. First we were moved to one refugee centre and then to another where we lived for 2 or 3 months. It was not a good experience, because it was winter and we had to walk to the supermarket that was located at quite a distance as we had no bicycles.

After 2 or 3 months we moved to Gilleleje to another refugee centre, and here I started to learn Danish at the language school as I also realized how important it is to be able to speak the language.

We had some good parties in Gilleleje, where volunteers would come and they would all play bingo and music, and they would also eat and drink. I am Kurdish myself and my religion is called yarsan. I can drink alcohol and eat pork, but for 3 days each year we fast, and it is a bit like the Ramadan.

At the centre in Gilleleje I was having Danish language classes 4 to 6 hours a week, and I think that the employees and volunteers ended up a little tired of me, because I always wanted to practice my Danish and I just kept speaking with them. We lived a little over a year at the centre and after that we moved to another centre, where I, and my family, finally got our permanent residence permit. The interview took 5 or 6 hours, and even though I kind of knew that they had to give it to us, I was just so relieved particularly also on behalf of my children, who deserve a better future.

After the interview I was asked where we wanted to live, and I said that we really wanted to live in Copenhagen, because this is where my children have the best options when it comes to their education such as for example universities. So we moved to a temporary housing in Copenhagen, where we lived for almost a year and for me it has been a good experience as I have learned to play billiard and I often play against my son, who is a really skilled player.

At the temporary housing I continued to go to school to learn Danish, but I also had different internships such a being a service man, which, however, unfortunately also implied that I got my back injured as I was lifting a washing machine. I would like to get a real job and I am considering getting a job as an interpreter, because I really have an interest in using my Danish.

I have now together with my wife and children moved to a new apartment that is 83 square metres and is located in a good neighbourhood. The main reason why I chose to go to Denmark with my family was because I knew that my children, who all are academically skilled, would have some great options regarding their future careers.

Dublin Core: Language: en Subject: a million stories, denmark, kurdistan, iran, refugee,