The Citizens Are Speaking

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Date(s) - 01/01/2016 - 30/06/2016
All day


Project type

Selected participants

The aim of the project was to engage EU citizens on the currently highly debatable issue of immigration, with a view to encourage civic participation of citizens at EU level. The  project included kick-off conference in Malta, volunteering activities and collecting stories from migrants in various countries, also in Slovakia and final conference in Slovenia.

Bellow, you can find one story of Nasser and Sandra who came from Iraq to Slovakia in December 2015. You can read all stories here and recommendations about integration immigrants here.

The first family that was willing to speak with the volunteers in Slovakia are Nasser and Sandra with their 3 children. They welcomed a newborn baby, Laura, to their family in February 2016 so this positive experience will be forever associated with life in Slovakia, as they say. They are not planning to leave Slovakia for another European country or even their motherland. Their tough journey started several years ago as they lived 50 km from Erbil in northern Iraq. When terrorists from the ISIS first came to their region, hell was unleashed, in particular for Nasser.

After he saw his friend being killed because of his Christian beliefs, he also witnessed three bomb explosions in such a close distance, so that he was in a real danger too. As he says: “I was very lucky because God was watching over me”.

Terrorism left a scar on the whole family. The family was dispossessed of their home, which forced them to leave for Lebanon, where they stayed for several months in a camp. But the conditions in the camp were inhumane, it was very difficult, especially for the kids. The situation in the Lebanese camp forced them to leave in order to seek a better life and future for the whole family. They truly miss their family because in their culture it is normal for family relatives to stay together and visit each other very often, they explained. The problem is that their family is divided by war – Nasser´s sister with her family got asylum in France, another sister is waiting for asylum in Baghdad and the other sibling is in.

Kurdistan. Life is full of waiting and hope especially for Nasser´s parents who are under protection of the UN in one of the camps in Lebanon. The only contact they have is through social media but the idea of seeing each other in person is still covered by an ominous shadow of uncertainty. They also have some financial difficulties, but they hope to find employment in Slovakia in the near future. That is why they are trying to practice and learn the Slovak language as quickly as possible. Before they left Iraq, Nasser was the owner of a bookshop and Sandra worked in a lab so they hope to find similar jobs but they are not picky. Their kids prefer living in Slovakia more than Lebanon too as they are excited to be back in school on Monday. In order to support their smooth integration, they were assigned a school with Slovak children with respect to their ages. As the social worker said, in September it will be decided if the kids are going to change classes according to their language and knowledge levels.

Nasser and Sandra were mostly grateful to Slovakia as they were willing to offer them protection, as well as to the church and churchmen who provided them with emotional sanctuary and support. Volunteers were also a big help, in particular with their recent financial situation, but also with better integration into the society. In Iraq, they lived in fear and danger so they are not planning to return. They need to think about their children first, Nasser and Sandra say…

More pictures from the project are here:

Project was financed from the programme Europe for Citizens.