|Human, by Fatima. Berlin 2017|
The arthur+martha international outreach project Heaven-Proof House is a collaboration with refugees in Berlin, devised by Phil. It is supported by the British Council/Arts Council England.
I am getting ready to go back to Berlin, and my thoughts are turning to the many good people I met there and the friends I made over the last year, during HEAVEN-PROOF HOUSE. One of the last interviews I made in Berlin was on a scorchingly hot day, in a huge hostel at the edge of the city. In a subtle way, it broke my heart to hear this story. Nasir is angry and sad, and tries desperately to find something good in a bad situation. This isn't a war story, its about what comes after a war you've had to flee, the nuts and bolts of being completely dispossessed, of home, of self-worth, even of language. And starting again...
First I want to say there are many, many good things about Germany and we have been shown much kindness. But you ask me if this is home.
Home? Hier ist alle leuter. In one small room sleep six people. Plates dirty. We have 20% people sick, don't want to eat this... stuff. All is shit. Some people have been here more than two years. La Giz say we don't have da heim for you. All of us need psychologist, psychiatrist. No one here feels good.
People need work, here there is nothing. Essen, schlafen. Deutsch for two or three hours in the day. Open the book. Nothing else to do. But we don't speak good Deutsch because we don't meet German people so we can't learn. The important thing is to listen to the sound. We make friends, but we can't invite them here. No visitors, no besuchen. Here we speak Arabische, Farsi.
I'm from Afghanistan and I have seen many things. But in my life, I've not seen this before. Hundreds of people in one place, six people sleeping in one room. The rooms are dirty, the toilets all dirty.
When I eat this food, I have a pain in my stomach. What am I to do?
I have been three years in Germany, nine months in this place. I know people who have been here over two years. It makes you crazy. My heart is sick with this. We go to which way? I think we will not find a nice way. This is not Europe, this is not democracy, this is a jail for me. For three years, four years, five years live here, inside this camp? At start all is ok. But I see my friends change, their voices get loud, talk not nice. All this pressure.
We come to be strong in Germany. We don't want to be on La Giz. I want to go to a job, I want to pay my life. This is so hard until we learn German.
When you come here at night time, after 11pm you will see something different. In sleep time is a bad smell. We have nowhere to put our shoes, our sandals, so they stink. After two or threee hours, boys come here in the big room and they play games on their phones. You see them lie on the benches out here. I ask them why and they say, "It smell so bad, I'm not sleeping."
I have a sickness. The important thing is doctor is not one nice place to be a sick person. I have three doctor papers, they say I need to go somewhere different. But the social say no, if you want to go somewhere different go back to your own country. They say they don't have no other place. They tell me, "This is not my job. Go and speak with Merkel."
I see how they look in their eyes. I think I am one animal. We need a chance, a chance to do something good. Something strong here in Germany, to help them and show them. But we don't have one chance.
In Afghanistan we have people with no house, no money, begging. "Give me one Euro!" This is the same. What can I say? I sleep in da heim and the Giz pay for me? I go to a party and people ask me what I do. What can I tell them? I live off your taxes?
I have been nine months in here...
Interviewed by Philip Davenport