From Afghanistan to Catania, Jamal’struggle for peace and happiness
I was walking on the street without any reason and some guys shouted at me: “Hey, afgan, why do you have red jacket?” I asked them: “What’s the problem with this jacket? If you want you can go there and buy one.” They said: “No, you don’t have the right to wear nice clothes.” And it’s also a problem if you wear dirty clothes. They say: “Oh, shity afgan, he doesn’t look good”. And if you wear nice clothes they say: “Oh, afgan became a human now”. So it was difficult to stop those young guys on the street every day. And every day I just wanted to escape from Iran.
Decision to escape
That’s what Jamal (34) was dreaming to escape from during all his adolescence. He was born in Afganistan, when he was four – his family moved to Iran. When Jamal was 21, he decided to start a new life in Europe. His dreamland and destination was United Kingdom. After few years he finally got the residence permit, but not from UK. Now he is living in Sicily, Italy.
It took him three tries to escape from Iran to Greece. It was a really dangerous way to travel and it was just a first dangerous situation he faced during seven year old road to a better future.
From Turkey to Greece in a small boat
Successful trip to Greece started on the shore of Turkey. Jamal was 23. He and four other young men took a small boat. “The boat was really small. We put all our dry clothes inside it, and with one leg in the boat and another in the water we started to row.” They were rowing without clothes in the end of the December. It was cold and they had to be in a small boat with one leg in the sea. They even didn’t know how to row.
During the ten hours long trip in the sea one guy just fell in the water. They lifted him out, he was lying in the boat freezing. Another one was crying and praying loudly. Third was just looking at the sea and doing nothing. “He told me, that the mountain he looks at is not moving. I said that no mountain should move, we are the ones who have to move.” He himself tried to believe that God will help them reach the land so he just was asking others not to create panic and row.
Hiding from police in Greece
God was generous and luckily they reach the shore of Greece. Jamal succeed to save his clothes before the police caught them and brought them in the police office. He was warming himself up by drinking tea and creating the plan to escape: “I asked the policemen if I can change my clothes? He said that I can, I went to the toilet, changed my clothes and when I came out there was a good moment to escape because the policemen were changing shifts.”
Jamal ran away to the city. He was doing everything to change his look. He bought a jacket, local newspaper to show that he is Greek, cookies and can of Pepsi. Before he found where to buy sun glasses the same policeman who took him out from the sea was going past and noticed him. Policemen took him to office again, beat him up and put in the camera with all his friends. They took his fingerprints. It means, that Greece took all responsibility for him and he couldn’t go to another country.
From France to UK under a truck
Anyways, he still had a dream to go to England where his sister was living at that moment. After a long jurney he finaly reached France. He knew that being in this country is the only chance to reach his destination. But the task to find smuggler who can help wasn‘t so easy. After unsuccessful tries to get in the ship both of them decided to go to England by themselves.
They found a ferry which was bringing trucks to England. They took a place under the truck. His friend has installed himself in to the spare tire and Jamal was holding himself by hugging the pipe near the wheals. When ship arrived they thought that truck will stop and they could run away. But truck just started to go. It was winter time. They were under the truck and all dirty snow from the highway was splattered to his face and body. Truck was going really fast. Jamal couldn‘t feel some parts of his body. And only after a few hours truck has stopped and they had a chance to run away.
Waiting for freedom
After small time in England he was returned to Greece. Jamal faced a lot of gory situation by running from police, going from one place to another while he finally stayed in Italy. Now he has a residence permit to stay here but he is still waiting for a permit to leave a country.
Against the law Jamal could live and work in Europe as everyone else does if he has a citizenship of Italy. For that he must live in Italy not less than 10 years and have a regular job for last 3 years of that period. Unluckily at the moment it is quite hard to find a regular job in Italy because of the after effects of economical crisis the job market is full of unemployed people.
This article was written during the project Communication Tools Use in NGO Activities