Being a refugee

Sam is 25 and arrived in Switzerland 5 years ago from the Middle East. How he came to Switzerland precisely is still not clear to him, he wanted to go to Germany where there is a big community from his area and he had a few cousins working there, but something went wrong with the visas. There was a friend who had told him about a political refugee program in CH and he applied and was very surprised to be accepted. On the map  Switzerland and Germany are pretty close and he thought it was a first step towards joining up with his relatives.

The whole process however turned out to be pretty slow and to make a long story short he was still in Switzerland 4 years later, where he had no relations and no friends. He had also underestimated the restrictions that the refugee status imposed on him in terms of travel outside Switzerland, although there was a daily train to Berlin that took only 9h he could not get a visa for travel in the EEC. He obviously could not go back to his countryeither and therefore had not seen his family since the day he left. He had hoped to be able to send a good amount of money back home each month, but life is so expensive in CH that it was only possible to send small amounts and some times he skipped a month or two.

He was working as an assistant cook in a restaurant in the center of the city and had the typical complex shifts of people working in restaurants. Some days he would finish round 23h other days he would start early and have a main lunch shift with a big break until 18h when the evening service would start.  He loved going out but had few friends and little time, which meant he only got to go bowling or to dancing once or twice a month.

I miss my family a lot but I talk to them every day for at least 2h with skype and a webcam and it only costs 42 CHF a month for the internet connection. Until I had skype I had to go and call in a phone booth or in one of those international call cafes. Not only it was expensive but I only went once a week and just called for a few minutes. I wasn’t sure who was home and who I would talk to. Sometimes we tried to make an appointment to be sure. But with my funny schedules it wasn’t always easy to find the right time,  and there was no webcam so I didn’t see them. I hated going, it made me really sad, I would talk to them and then miss them, and then wait for the next call but I’d be sad again.  

Now as I come home I switch the computer  on and can see my sisters, my parents, they show me anything new they have bought. The other day an uncle came in and showed me a huge huge tomato that had grown in his garden. I don’t mean its like being together but now it is every day I don’t wait to call and then am disappointed it is a sort of ongoing conversation.   When I’m not talking to them I’m on MSN chatting with some friends. I have about 30 buddies also people I met online in arab forums, but  I only really chat regularly with 3 or 4 friends and cousins. We all look at the same websites. We upload films, videoclips, nice pictures, funny pictures and music from my country. We can look at the news and know what people there are thinking and worrying about.

Every day when I am at home in the morning or in the afternoon I go online and have my family there, my friends on MSN and all this music and information from my country. Its a bit like if my room was in my old home.    

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