Sometimes they were like us… refugees

Sufyan from Pakistan shares with us his story on why he decided to leave his homeland, his experience in other countries, and why he changed his mind about education.

Photo: Xenie Majznerová

What is your name? Where are you from?

My name is Sufyan… and I come from Pakistan.

What was your job, or where did you study before you came here?

When I was in Pakistan I was a student, and I have not had anything like a job yet. I’m just a student.

Why did you decide to leave Pakistan?

Why did I decide to come here, to a European country? Because I was not a good student at my school, and my parents in Pakistan did not have enough money to pay for all their children to go. My brother and my sister attended the same school, and they were good at it. So I decided to go to another country, to a European country, to find a job to be able to work and send some money back to support my family. My brother, my sister. My father had a job but not enough money to pay for our education. That is why I decided to come to a European country. But now I’ve also changed. Now I also like to study. So that is why I go to school here and study.

Why did you suddenly change your mind on studying?

I have met many people here who do not respect uneducated people. They respect people who are educated, and who have education. Because I have no education I cannot understand the people. And I think that European people are very educated. They understand uneducated people but they don’t…  they don’t feel… And I think that when someone has education, he can give better answers and he can deal better with other people.

Do you think that you as a Muslim can integrate into European culture?

No, I do not think so. Because it is difficult. I just want to live simply. Simply as the European people who are happy in their lives. And that is why I have no big dreams about my future here: because I am not a child. I am 25 years old. And if I go for a master’s degree, it will take a lot of time. And I also want to help my family.

What is your family’s financial situation?

My family? My father died, and even when he lived we had money for school, but it was not enough. Because my brother and sister study at government schools, we do not need so much money to go to a government university or a college in Pakistan. But now they really need my help. I’ve also been in other countries and it was not a good experience. I could not help my family because I was in a camp and in “prison”, because I was an illegal. And now they really need my help. My family’s financial situation is not good. That is why I am here in Germany. I was in Greece, and then I decided to go to Germany because I heard that when someone comes to Germany he can find a job easily. And that is why I decided to come here. Because of my family situation.

What do you want to study?

First of all, I want to learn the German language because without it I am not able to study further. And then I want to be trained for a job. I have not decided yet which one I will choose. There are offices here where we can go and ask them which job is better for our future or which job better suits our language level. I have been learning the German language for 10 months, and you have to be at a certain language level to get a professional job. But I think it is difficult for us because the language is difficult. It is difficult for us to plan anything. So we are just thinking about small jobs. I have not decided what kind of job I want to do up to now. First I just want to learn the German language. When I master it, I will decide which job is best for me.

How do you define happiness? What does it mean for you?

In Germany or…? Happiness means for me that I am happy. When I am happy it means that my family is also happy. And my friends are also happy. I am not satisfied with myself. Because I have gone through a lot of bad experiences in foreign countries. I am not satisfied with myself and I am not able to say anything about it.

If you could speak to people who hate people from outside of Germany or do not like refugees, what would you tell them?

I’d just tell them… I think every country in the whole world was once a colony. And then they got freedom from the other country. It would be good if they would think about that time. Not about the future, nor the present. They just need to think about the past. Sometimes they were also like us: refugees. And I think that people are the same. Everyone is the same. There are just differences between humans in religion, custom and language. And I think every language and every religion teaches its followers to respect other people. I think everyone has to follow his or her religion, or if they have no religion they believe in someone. They believe their own hearts, they believe in themselves.

Because there are a lot of people now who just produce propaganda against refugees. They turn people against refugees. My message to those people, to ordinary people is that they should not just follow what their leaders are saying to them. They should just follow what they themselves… what their hearts say about a person. And they should respect other people.


Blogs and interviews were produced as part of the project “Refugee stories, to which volunteers contribute in their free time. The core of the project is built upon the We Can organisation, cooperating with the organisation Umweltzentrum Dresden. The project is supported by the Czech-German Fund for the Future in 2016.