The story of “Hamia” from Algeria
“….Greece is the country we intend to live.
We had decided it from the very beginning … “
Hamia is from Algeria. She is 40 years old, married with five children. She came in Greece in 2017, almost one and a half years ago, and her last child was born in Greece.
She has completed journalism studies in Algeria and she has done many different jobs such as seamstress and teacher of Arabic and French languages to children. She didn’t wish to speak about the last job she performed before leaving her country.
The trip from Algeria to Greece was especially difficult for Hamia, since she was pregnant and her health condition had worsened. When I asked her about the things she has brought with her from her country of origin, she replied: “The last night before I leave my country, my mother had given me golden jewels as a gift and also my sister’s family had all given me something as a present, but it all got stolen during the journey. It was like a jungle. We were walking up to 10 hours in the dark. It was very difficult. We lost all our things.”
The first period in Greece was also very tough for Hamia: “It was difficult here, very difficult. I could not eat, the food had a bad smell and the living conditions in the island within a tent were very difficult. I was feeling very bad. Every day I felt tired, I felt sick. During the pregnancy all vitamin levels were very low. Because of that, the delivery of the baby was very difficult. It felt like I was giving birth for the first time. I believed I would die. Hopefully, the doctor could speak French, and the nurse, too, and this helped a lot.”
After seven months in a Greek island, Hamia and her family came to Athens. She immediately got into hospital. “I can’t remember anything from this first period. I was only going to the hospital and then back home.”
Nowdays, Hamia’ s health is improved and her everyday life is rather getting into normal: “In the building where we are staying with my family there isn’t anybody who speaks Arabic. But in the flat opposite ours, there is a lady speaking French, living there with her family. And we greet each other, and they are all very nice to us…In the neighborhood I visit the supermarket and the children’s school. They go to Greek school and they have learnt the language. When I speak to them, they tell me, ‘you don’t speak Greek, go and learn and then come and speak with us.’ I need to learn the language for the children. To help them in school, to read with them the books they get taught in school. I can now slowly read the words, but I do not yet understand what I am reading, the meaning of them.”
Asking her about her dreams for the future, Hamia says: “The only thing I want is to work. To rely on myself. To be able to rely on ourselves… I miss working. Ok, as a teacher I can’t work. Because since children here speak Greek I have to first learn Greek. But, I can work for example in a small sewing industry, since I know this job very well …Greece is the country we intend to live. We had decided it from the very beginning. We left our country just to have freedom. Here we have found it. Our children go to school here and if we also find a job, we have no reason of wanting to change country.”