“My shoes burned in Moria. Before my shoes burned I used to run.”

A talk with a friend from Ethiopia on Lesbos Island…

If you want to run away and you are black they see you from far, White people they can run. Me sometimes i ask where can I get this white skin? For white people it is easy to run away.


“I am 21 years old. I come from West Ethiopia. I belong to the Oromo. The Oromo are a very big tribe, which inhibits a very rich part of country in the country. This is why we have so many problems.

Before I left I was a student in Adis Abeba and I also used to run. I have a good time: 10 kilometers I used to finish in 33’.

In my university they killed many Oromo students. They used to pick… well, they know us by our traditional names. My name is an Oromo name. They used to pick up all clever students from Oromo tribe and said they wanted to give us money and teach us to teach Oromo people to change their mind. They wanted us to make our people accept to give our land away. They wanted to force us to go and change them. We said: No! We can not do that. We can not change the rules.

They used to put us 24 hours in prison. We told them: Ok, we accept everything, because we are afraid of them.

For example me: My father, my mother, they have good conditions for life, we have everything. I don’t even ever thought about leaving my country. But when this happened, I had to leave.

We were many women that left but many others had not enough money to cross the borders until Europe, so they go to Sudan on their foot. I had money to go by car. I crossd by brokers.

Now, I am in Mytilene since two months in Moria Hotspot. In Moria are too many people. Many people but you are alone. I can’t stand it.

What happened to me the other day when Moria burned is: I was sick, very sick, so I had to go to hospital and I left at 7 o’clock from Moria. In the hospital I heard something happened in Moria. When I finished and went back to Moria, all my stuff was burned, also all my documents.

Just this same day the UN Nations of Ethiopia said that Ethipia is also for Oromo, but in Adis Abeba the government said the master plan for Oromo was to teach our families what they wanted. Then we told them NO! Our families schould not learn such things. We don’t want to learn to lie to our families. So, they replied, if you refuse to go and teach your people what we want, even if you finish your studies, you dont get your diploma from university.

We graduate but we are tired. It is very dificult in our country to study and learn. Only to get to university you have to cross 2 hours. You walk by your foot. No one pays for you the bus to go to school and come back. You walk 2 hours to go, you walk 2 hours to go back home. You walk and learn. Me i learned like this.

So one year I walked in the rain. I am tired of my life. I want to know what will happen to me. To get my documents.

You know I never wished to go and ask for asylum in another country. Why I left is that I didn’t have a choice. If I had stayed there I would be in prison. So I ran away.

Everything what I dreamed is like dark now. So, I am very sad about my life.

A safe place for women alone Moria? You know the first day I saw the Greek police and I thought they are very nice. But the way we are forced live here is very bad. It is very very bad. You know I am from a rural area but I never stayed like this outside and I never had this kind of life.

My family they have everything and they take care of me and they like that I study. Here in the camp I feel I am diferent. The most women in the camp they think if they get a boyfriend and get pregnant they will get asylum. Me, I think let them not give me asylum, I have confidence about myself to take my own choices. So it is a very bad life for me here.

The first day when I came to Moria, when I just had entered Greece, we finished the registration interview and they told me to go outside. I did not understand what is “outside” and what is “inside”. You finish the interview with the police, then you go outside. I said to the police: No i want to stay here, because I am alone. He said ok, you can stay. Then I saw everyone is going outside. Outside means inside but outside. Inside Moria.

I went outside to Eurorelief organisation. They are outside. I told to them that I needed stuff to sleep, to eat. Then they looked and who looks like me they know are Ethiopians, Erytreans. We look same, they took me to them then they said: Go there!

There were 13 women in one room, and I went. I used to sleep with them. We couldn’t even move on the floor as it was so crowded. we lay down and couldn’t move. When you weke up your back pains like you are sick. I am not feeling like I am well. Even now something is wrong with me. In my life I have never been sick, but here from sleeping I get sick. I never feel comfortable.

And now after the burning of our stuff, everything is dark. You dont have anything to bring from outside. If you have relatives, you need documents. I don’t have anything. I just registered to get back my documents.

I also still don’t know what is the final decision. So I am waiting. It would be much better, if I would know how long I have to wait here. But now I dont know how much I have to wait. This is a big problem. So I am just waiting. I am 2 months now in Moria waiting. There is no information about us and what will happen. There are people since 4 months, 6 months… waiting.

I am still full of hope but… you know, I have a strong heart with my final decision but now it is very dificult to move, to think, here. Because everything is dark. I can not say about my last decision, I can not talk now. I don’t know what will happen. I dont know what to do.

Any country would be a destination for me. I don’t have a problem. I just wanted to go somewhere to save my life and work and continue learning.

Even you know when I left my country I tried to stay near, in Sudan. But for women in Sudan it is very dificult to do something. Because in that country, men can do anything, women can’t.
So that is why I crossed this road to come to Greece.

By the way, when I came to Greece I didn’t know I was coming to Greece. My friends had told me if you go to Italy you can get a chance. There are many Oromo there.

Here when I come the police told me: Oh Ethiopia is a goood country! I said yes, it is a very good country. Only the problem is I am Oromo. You know in my country on daytime if someone kills you, someone can see it, but at night time it’s very dificult for us. If you are Oromo they think: Your mind is from the opposition party, so it is very dificult for us.

Then I start working because in a jeans fabric. I worked for one month then the last day the boss didn’t want to pay me the 1,000 tl he owed me. Then I cried. I didn’t even take the money. If I sit and do nothing I dont get anything, so I had to work and this work was very heavy: You work from the morning to the night. I have the power to work. Then I work work work.

Boss you had told me you don’t take commission. I had asked. He didn’t want to answer, he wanted beat me, then i left everything behind and run way.

I went to police station. I don’t know the name of that place.. I cried and told the police. The policeman said: “Do you have a visa?” I said no. The fabric is a major industrial site producing jeans. I brought the supermarket jeans produced there to remember this. now it got burned in Moria.

I told the policeman you have to go and ask for me for the money. He replied: ‘If you don’t have a visa we will deport you to Ethiopia. I could not survive in Turkey. I had no rights there.

Now I am in Greece. In Moria. I don’t know this life. I just wanted to reach Greece. No I just want to leave. My bad life is this. Sometimes you dream good things but you don’t success reaching them. Before I used to dream nice dreams: I studied computer sciences and when I finish I wanted to create something. That’s why I studied computer. That was my plan before.

Now I don’t know. I am not thinking about anything. I am only sleeping in Moria. The way I am now, you don’t know anything, you are just sitting and waiting. I am waiting only to see what will happen. I am not dreaming any more about my future.

My shoes burned in Moria. Before my shoes burned I used to run. You know I used to run when I was in school. I was number one in my school. I used to run very good. My father wanted me to be at school very good, and he liked sports also but he wanted me to be educated more than to be a runner. And me I liked my father and what he told me, so school was first and running second. But I liked running and I had good times – in 10km I used to have 33’. But in my country there is plenty runners, too much, even with 29’ you can’t go to the running training or competition- Also training shoes are very expensive in my country. My family used to buy for them me so I keep them with me always. Even when I left everything behind I kept the running shoes with me. Then, that day I got sick, I went to hospital from Moria so I didn’t wear the sport shoes. I left them it in Moria and Moria burned. I cried about my shoes. I told my friend who had stayed in Moria that day: ‘Why didnt you save my shoes?’ She said: ‘We were going to loose our lives and you care about the running shoes?’

Mitilini 10.10.2016