Life in Germany has not been unkind to Sayed Ali*, but in our conversations it is clear that he is keenly aware of the negative feelings people associate with him simply because he is a refugee.
“I miss my family, my home. But here I am known as ‘refugee’ and I hate the word. There is a feeling inside me - when a person looks at me here, the first thing that comes into his or her mind is ‘refugee.’ I feel like I am being watched from the moment someone first looks at me. I am doing my level best and living like a strong man. Not feeling pain and killing my hope for the future.”
Ali struggles with the in-between-ness of his life in Germany. While he waits to hear from the German government about what his future holds, he is always on the outside of the German community, neither a local nor a visitor. However, he doesn’t let this displacement stop him from trying to make the world and the people around him better. He is eternally optimistic.
When asked what gives him hope, he replies, “Struggle and friends give me hope. I have struggle but I don't always feel like I have friends. I hate my life as a refugee for the last eight months. Sometimes I feel it was a mistake to leave Pakistan, that it would be better to have died there with honour than to live in the prison that is being a refugee. But still, my faith and hope keep me going.”
*Name has been changed to protect his identity