I came here to Greece in order to save my life, now, they took even my body away from me

Patras, August 2011

Two refugees from Sudan talk about their lives in an emptied city. Patra has been the second exit-port after Igoumenitsa that the greek police raided in 2011. In the center of the city one cannot see any immigrants anymore. In repeated sweep operations the authorities destroyed a number of provisory housing sites and arrested hundreds of sans-papiers. In the summer of 2011 only very few refugees remained at the rims of the city marginalised and displaced.

M. from Sudan

When I came to Greece I had the dream to go to Europe. I went to Athens and tried to leave the country by airplane. I was caught. I lost my money. Then I worked for two years on the fields of Greek farmers. I collected some money to try again and leave. Then my family called. They needed money for the hospital. There is a industry near to our village run by foreigners. They through all the wastewater into the groundwater which we drink. Many people get sick and dy. I sent all the money I had to them. Then I went to Komunisia to try to leave without money. I failed. After many months on the mountain, eating from the garbage and sleeping next to snakes and scorpions I could not handle my life anymore. I had to take medicine in order to be able to sleep. I applied for asylum. One day the police came to the mountain and they arrested everybody. Also me. They put handcuffs on my hands that were so tight that I suffered from pain for days. It would have been better to beat us once so that the pain would pass faster. Komunisia did not want any migrants anymore – not even us who applied for asylum and became legalised. I went to another city for work. I travelled one day until I reached the farm. My new boss put me to work immediately. He din’t give me anything to eat and he didn’t let me have a rest. I worked with a strong headache. I had to ask for a short rest. My boss became so angry that he told me to leave the same day. He couldn’t even bring me to the bus station since I couldn’t walk from the pain that stroke my body. I went to another village for work. The farmer told me I would get 30 Euro for loading watermelons on a truck and unloading them later at the market. He changed his mind and decided I had to put them all again back on the truck since nobody wanted to buy them. I told them I would do it but he had to pay me more. First he tried to hit my cousin with the truck and leave without paying anything. Then his son came back and told me he would pay us finally, we should join him on the truck. He drove us to a remote area outside of the village. Another 15 people appeared. We understood it was not for good and tried running away, but they caught me and they beat me. They stole my money and my asylum seekers card. I was brought to the hospital for the treatment of my injuries. Three days I stayed. After the release from the hospital I had no place to go, no money and no papers. I stayed in Patras on a parking site. Until today I cannot carry heavy weight. I cannot run because of the pain. All day long I am searching for something to eat. The police doesn’t give me a new pink card because I have no address. I am homeless. I came here to Greece in order to save my life, now they took even my body away from me.

A. from Eritrea

I walked seven days from Eritrea to Sudan to escape into freedom. They put me into a “camp” for refugees from where I escaped later. I worked. My family sold their house in order to help me to go to Europe. We don’t have anything left in Eritrea. I do not have anything left here. I even loose myself. I am very tired. My big aim is to study. I want to have education. Here in Patras I live on the beach. I am an asylum seeker in Greece but there is no place for me. In the night I sleep five hours only. Thats enough. I stand up around 8 o’clock in the morning. In this time everybody is free to go where he wants. When it becomes hot we try to find a shadow to sleep again for some hours. In the afternoon we go together to search for some food. Everyday the same programme. The plan is always to find some food. We are not trying to leave Greece. There is no chance. They closed Komunisia for the immigrants. In Patra they built a new port outside of the centre. The ships that come from Italy arrive in the old port, but after they go to the new port in order to take the passengers and the trucks. It is very difficult to enter the new port. When the police catches you in the new port they will beat you a lot. They have dogs also. Only very few persons have luck and manage to leave. Maybe two in few days. If we are 500 people in the city, when will it be my turn to leave? It is impossible. We are all getting crazy here. Yesterday one of us, today another. Tomorrow you will see that I have become crazy too.

The infomobile

... is like a “paper boat”. We chose this as a metaphor for what we want to create and for the situation of refugees and migrants in Greece. The paper boat is a folded boat able to swim – for a while. Then you have to build a new one to go on travelling. A paper boat is symbolic for the journey of life, vulnerable but in your own hands and to be recreated again and again. It is simple, but it carries many hopes and dreams. It can dance on a turbulent sea. It belongs to everybody. And it might become the small version – like a first draft – of a welcome-space.

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