I’m a refugee by Ikram Laimeche, Algeria

It all started in 2010, I was sitting next to my parents drawing something until I stopped and watched TV!

It was the first time of my life when I was afraid, it was the Arab spring where all the world started fighting, countries and societies were destroying each other and the most horrible thing people dying and some of them gave everything to go to somewhere else and become a refugee.

After 7 years from that unforgettable morning I decided to stand with them even if my country citizens were against them, I decided to live a new adventure.

I went to the city center to talk to some of them it doesn’t matter what language we speak! Body language and eyes contact were enough to know it all.

I asked some of those who were on the streets but no clear answer! And I started losing hope. 

How am I going to help someone who don’t understand any word I’m saying, but something inside me kept telling me to never give up. Until I went to bus station and met another refugee from Nigeria tall guy more than 60 years old wearing Muslim clothes and doing some tasbih. I said Hi and took his permission to talk, wohoo! Finally someone who can understand me clearly.

I said to him:” Sir can I ask you where you stay at night? Who are you and who are the other refugees that you are staying with, don’t worry I’m just someone who’s trying to help you..”

With his broken French mixed with some body language that’s what he said:” we are families staying to gather beside a mosque that isn’t so far from here…yes yes, there are kids, females and good guys … we came from Nigeria, Mali, Congo and Cameroon…..”.

I took some notes on my copy book and asked” what do you need exactly food? Clothes?…”.

He answered:” we need everything”.

I said to myself every possible essential that human need in their lives, I felt like I just made a new friend!

I got to know a horrible life that is hidden behind tears, people in the streets daily from day to night asking for money, I went to where my refugee friend guided me asking myself is that the right path!

I found myself inside an old neighborhood in my city and found a guy who was fixing broken bikes he seemed like he is aged between 45-50 years old. I said to myself:”oh well asking him is better than nothing”

I asked him:” Hi can I ask you where refugees stay?”

He answered:” Here, I can take you if you want”

It was so risky thing to do and come inside to talk to refugees, I came inside a dark place that smells horrible I couldn’t breath inside. Until I heard a guy’s voice talking a different accent, They welcomed us and i had no idea where all that bravery come to help someone else, is it because of that morning in 2010, is it the Arab spring that made me do it? Is it because I saw normal people losing their lives for no reason?

I got to know their story a story of 35 human being under one roof! Not a real roof like ours but a horrible old place with no water to drink, no food and no electricity!

I said to myself how can someone handle all this just to stay alive, aren’t they already a dead souls inside a human body who keep breathing?

Absolutely they are a day dreams, dreams who are looking for a better future

a refugee who can only recognize the sunlight in a dark life, looking at birds flying in the sky freely and where is he?

Inside a jail!

A refugee who lost his wings, a refugee who’s looking for light inside darkness.

They only know how to ask for money to buy anything and keep themselves alive.

I left that place feeling amazed!

No matter how much words I’m going to write it won’t describe refugees situations.

Imagine yourself as a refugee…


This is just one example of the important work produced YaLa’s citizen journalists, a program funded by the European Union’s Peacebuilding Initiative in order to enable young leaders from across the Middle East and North Africa to document and share their experiences of the region. 


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