I arrived in Greece from Pakistan by way of Turkey. When I first got here I stayed for seven or eight days at the refugee reception centre in Lesvos and then at the site of Ellinikon. Now I’m living at the shelter where Amin and Mahdi1 are staying, along with some other kids my age who are from different countries. I started school last year halfway through the school year, and now I’m in the last grade of middle school. I like my Greek class and I’m trying to learn good Greek, because it’s hard to live in a country if you don’t know the language. I also go for cricket practice with a team. Cricket is a very popular sport in Pakistan.
I’ve been to other cities in Greece, like Thessaloniki and Trikala, which I saw on a trip they took us on when I was staying at a reception centre. I liked those cities because they’re quieter than Athens. All things considered, I like living in Greece and I can do a lot of things here. I can say that after the difficult journey I made to get here, I’ve learned what life means. I’ve learned what safety and security mean and how we should live from now on. I didn’t know what life meant in Pakistan, it was so dangerous there. But I want to live and that’s why I left.
I saw a lot of artworks in the Museum2. Some of them reminded me of my country and others made me remember things I’ve experienced. Like the “bottari”3, the tied bundles of clothes. They reminded me of the bundles we made in Pakistan. My grandmother used to make them and store different things in them. And then there was the Swedish Flying Carpet4, which reminded me of the carpets they make in Pakistan and in Arab countries. Of course, the ones we have for sitting aren’t made from this material.
Bill Viola’s artwork5 was the one that really moved me. It reminded me what I went through on my way from Turkey to Greece. It shows people from different backgrounds standing in some space and suddenly they get blasted with water, like from a really powerful storm, and they get knocked down. I think he wants to show that we shouldn’t be arrogant or brag about things. Like in the movie I saw about the Titanic, where the shipbuilders bragged about how the ship was unsinkable. But unfortunately, as we all know, the ship sunk and not only that, in a calm sea. Their pride went down with the ship, too.
My own trip lasted five hours, even though they said it would be only an hour and a half. I was on my own and didn’t know anyone else in the boat. It was winter and the weather was bad and I didn’t know how to swim that well. I thought I was going to die, but thank God, I’m still alive. But the fear has stayed inside me ever since. I’m not afraid of the sea, but when it’s windy and the sea is rough, I remember what I experienced in the boat and I don’t feel well.
It’s really hard when you’ve gone through all of this. But now I can at least think about my future. I’d like to be a success in my life and become a doctor so I can help other people. If I can’t be a doctor, I’d like to become a policeman, because the police help people, too. Wherever I finally get settled, I want to be useful to society and help other people.
I’m really looking forward to the exhibition at the Museum6 and seeing our portraits in the gallery. I think about all the people who will get to know us from our portraits. That’ll be really interesting, and that’s why I’ll be coming back often to visit the exhibition.
1 Hassan’s friends Amin and Mahdi also took part in the program.
2 Refers to the National Museum of Contemporary Art, Athens.
3 Refers to Kimsooja’s work, Bottari, 2005-2017.
4 Refers to Kostis Velonis’ work, Swedish Flying Carpet, 2001.
5 Refers to The Raft, 2004.
6 Refers to the National Museum of Contemporary Art, Athens.