“I remember my past and think that, today, everything is perfect”

Raha, beneficiary of the Future Interpreters program, SolidarityNow

Saturday, in the Thessaloniki Solidarity Center.

Young people from different countries have gathered to attend the training seminars for interpreters, entitled Future Interpreters, implemented by SolidarityNow with the support of the Guerilla Foundation. The instructors are preparing a game for the attendants – a role-playing game.

The beneficiaries-participants split up in three teams. They have to organize a fictional appointment between an Afghan beneficiary and the Asylum Service in just a few minutes. The team consists of a lawyer who represents the beneficiary, a young man from Palestine who plays the beneficiary from Afghanistan and Raha, from Iran, who has the role of the interpreter. We don’t know whether the Asylum Service will rule in favor of the beneficiary, however those who participated in the role-playing game learned how to handle a procedure like this, how to cultivate people’s empathy and how to prevent future challenging cases of people in need.

After the seminar, people talk about the course and their impressions. Today was the seminar’s last day. Among the participants in the Future Interpreters program is Raha, born and raised in Iran. Raha is calm and gentle. Her black, Iranian eyes loom in her white, porcelain face. But apart from her beauty, Raha wins people over with her kind manners and her smile. “We’ve learnt so many things in this seminar. From dressing properly to handling a difficult situation; when the beneficiaries are angry, for example. I also enjoyed the different teaching techniques our instructors used with which they made the seminar even more interesting. Furthermore, the interaction with the other attendants created a warm atmosphere. I would love to find a job in this field”, Raha says.

As we talk, Raha opens up more and the discussion turns into a deep confession. She came to Greece with her husband a year ago. “I was facing many problems in my country”, she confesses. Raha grew up in a middle-class urban Iranian family. From a very young age, art classes were her favourites. So, when she grew up, she studied art and became a painting teacher.

Raha is divorced and a mother of an 11-year-old child. Today, however, she has a happy marriage, which went through many difficulties. The couple went through them united until the end, and today they live in their own house in Northern Greece. Coming to Greece, Raha decided to be baptized as a Christian. In fact, with her husband they decided to get married with a Christian wedding. They had already been married in Iran, but it was very important to them to re-seal their relationship. As she says, they didn’t have enough money to afford the ceremony. They were staying at an accommodation scheme far away from the city center and were unemployed. But in the end, Raha wore her new friend’s old wedding dress and got married to her husband before their good friends.

Time has passed and most of the attendants have left. The grey scenery of the city outside the window makes the melancholic atmosphere more intense. Raha’s voice and her story though is a ray of sunshine in this dark scenery. Raha considers herself very lucky to be in Greece – “People ask me why I want to stay in Greece, and I tell them, why not? Everything is great here. I am free, I can be with my husband, I can enjoy myself. Is there any better place in the world? I am very happy to be living in Greece. After everything I’ve been through, I can say I am strong and nothing can make me cry anymore”. Unlike Raha, her husband is not so optimistic. He complains about finding a job and how they will manage to get by. “I’m a little worried about my husband. For me, it’s different. I have been through many difficulties in my life. When I talk about my present and look at my past, I feel that, today, everything is perfect”, she adds. What she misses the most is her child; “my dream is to see my child again”. Her first husband has forbidden her from seeing and calling her child. The muscles in her face stretch and her eyes tear up. “When this is settled, I hope we can have a normal life in Greece”, Raha concludes.

*SolidarityNow implemented the Future Interpreters program, with the support of the Guerrilla Foundation and in collaboration with the Society for the Care of Minors and the PanHellenic Association of Professional Translators Graduates of the Ionian University.