“My mission is to give a meaning in my life”
“I am from Guinea”, Abdul says, and we are looking at the globe to find out where this country is. The Republic of Guinea is located in West Africa, is bordered by the Atlantic Ocean and neighbored by Guinea-Bissau, Senegal, Mali, Ivory Coast, Liberia and Sierra Leone. Guinea looks so distant in our own eyes, but not in the eyes of Abdul, who is dreaming to return back to his country.
Abdul, 21, came to Greece in May 2017. He is tall and solidly-built and very courteous. He speaks to us in French about his life and the importance and value of education for his country’s youth and not only. The words he uses are all carefully chosen and emotionally charged. Abdul finished high school in Guinea and registered at the University in the School of Insurance and Banking Studies. He was an excellent student and he really enjoyed reading. He has two favorite writers, the French Victor Hugo and his compatriot Camara Laya. “I really like this writer because he wrote very good books. If you find time, it’s worth reading his books. His books are taught at school. He writes about Guinea and more global on educational issues”, he informs us.
Abdul had to drop out from University because he hurriedly left Guinea. “Our world is complex, there is madness everywhere” he notes. He believed that everything would go as he had imagined. He was the good kid, the good student, his life was already predetermined. Suddenly everything was brutally overturned. “I thought that I would have a normal life, but everything changed. I wondered why all these things happened to me. I found that the people, I thought that would help me, were those who cut my wings”, Abdul adds.
The road led him first to Samos. There he discovered that he had a flair for writing. In the past, he had tried to write, but he was occupied with other things. In Samos were days that he did not know what to do. So, the only way out was through writing. He put his words down on a paper, to express his bitterness, as he tells us. Writing helps him to relax. “There are times when man feels no one will hear him, no matter how he shouts. I believe that you can attract more attention if you capture your thoughts on paper, in that way your message could be heard, and you can express the anger you may have. Here, I am going through a difficult time, emotions are many and mixed. I have an inner need to write down my thoughts, I don’t want to have an empty notebook. I want to express my anger”, he stresses.
We ask him about the writing process and he tells us that when he picks up the pencil, emotions and thoughts overflow him, and he captures them on paper. Then he returns to his writings. He re-reads them and tries to put them in order, to see how he can connect them, how to make rhymes and new ideas come to his mind. We ask him to tell us one sentence he has written. He grabs our notebook and writes a phrase in French, which in free translation can be read as follows: “the echo of my cry strengthens my anger”.
Education is one of the issues that concerns him, and it’s reflected in his writings. Education in Guinea is still trying to fill the gaps that the country’s precarious political situation has left behind. There is no education funding, no books for the children, and the academic year due to teachers’ strikes is shortened to 6 months. “The teachers, who have good intentions and are well-trained, work in the private schools and those who work in the public schools do not care about the teaching process and this negatively impacts the quality of education for students. I used to go to a public school”, says Abdul, who was the only one from his family who went to University.
From his University years, Abdul tells us that one image has been engraved in his memory. 200 students were trying to fit into a small room that had capacity for 80 people. The students were struggling to fit in the classroom and trying to listen the lecture and take notes. “It was something I experienced. I was impressed by the fact that young people in Guinea want to study, but they do not have the possibility”, Abdul says. “I do not know if you know Nelson Mandela’s quote about education. He said that the liberation of a nation is synonymous with its education. Without education we cannot do anything in life. It is the very basis for all things. All children are innocent, so if we deprive them of the educational process, we automatically deprive them of many things and that can have serious and long-term consequences. If everyone had access to education, things would be different, our world would be different, we would not have reached the point where we are today”, Abdul adds.
Abdul has applied for asylum in Greece. He wants to study Political Sciences. In Greece he decided to change his studies path. So, he tried to learn how to accomplish his goal. He discovered that in order to study in Greece he needs to go through some procedures that require time and patience. But that did not discourage him. He showed persistence and determination in pursuit of his dream. He chose the specific studies because, as he tells us, “I have a vision for my country”. Abdul wants to return to Guinea and help his country. We ask him if he likes Greece and if he imagines his future here. “I cannot say something that does not come out of my heart. I do not understand the language and I have integration difficulties. When I was in school, we were taught the Pythagoras Theorem. I also had the impression that I would come to Greece and find pensive people. But I realized that there are people who do not even know Pythagoras, so I am little bit disappointed”, he tells us honestly.
Today Abdul finds himself in a constant state of anticipation. He tries to put his thoughts in order. He recalls his journey from Africa to Greece. Despite the difficulties and obstacles, Abdul has not lost his optimism. “I see things from a positive point of view because I do not know what the future can bring; it can bring something positive. I have the following motto, while I breathe I hope. It’s not the time to put our hands down and resigning ourselves to our fate. On the contrary, I believe that the future is ahead. We will claim it”, he says.
His dream is to write a book to inspire everyone who share the same experiences with him. “I want to leave my traces so that those who will follow after me can find them. I want to write history. Camara Laya was a role model for me, so I want to leave something remarkable behind me like him. My mission is to give a meaning to my life”.
***Abdul is a beneficiary of the Child and Family Support Hubs program, which is implemented by SolidarityNow, supported by UNICEF, with funding from the European Commission’s humanitarian aid department (ECHO).
* Iliaktida as UNHCR’s partner has the management of Volvi Accommodation Scheme, through IATAP.
**The Organisation Internationale De La Francophonie (OIF) finances French language courses for asylum seekers in Athens and Thessaloniki.