Home can be a physical place, an imagined space, as well as a feeling. These spaces and places might be fixed or mobile, stable or transitory, but are created and called home. In this room, separation from families, isolation from homelands and temporary housing are common experiences.
“My world has changed since the pandemic. When the Dutch government imposed a lock down in March, some of my employers told me not to come until the situation was back to normal. The first 3 weeks were the most challenging. I spent most of the days inside my room, I couldn’t go out because there was no reason to. News of verbal and physical attacks on Asian people were circulating around the neighborhoods, and police were very visible on the streets to monitor social distancing.
During those weeks, my books became my weapon to fight boredom, anxiety and worrying about the future. I used my time to do the thing I love most - reading. My books become my best friends in overcoming the emotional effects of the crisis.Books I read in March include A Little Knowledge by Michael Macrone and Political Ideologies (An Introduction) by Andrew Heywood.
The Little Knowledge is about philosophy. According to Greek philosopher Heraclitus, "Everything changes but change itself. All things, good and bad, must pass". I believe that these bad times, the corona virus and the economic crisis we face, will come to an end too. Good days will come again.
I also read Political Ideologies by Andrew Heywood. I wanted to see the world and the current Covid 19 crisis through the lens of ideology, in particular the impact of neoliberalism on the world, economic globalisation and the issue of migration. Why did the spread of coronavirus happen? Why did governments impose restrictions at the expense of freedom of movement and choices? Why do undocumented people suffer the most in the time of the pandemic? Are there solutions to their sufferings? I want to go deep into economic fundamentals such as the free market, mobility of people and migration policies so I can clearly understand the social realities that affect me.”
05. Fatima, a Syrian refugee residing in England, shares her thoughts on Covid-19 and what it means for her family, in English and Arabic.
“While staying at home during Covid-19, I had to find different activities for my children day after day. They were not attending school and were so bored always being at home. Therefore the activities needed to be both educational and entertaining. One of my children is 7 years old and the other is 4 years old. I started teaching my son at home because school was sending homework and he couldn’t do it. We started with the alphabet and the sounds of letters. I bought these magnet letters for my son to make his understanding easier. He was placing letters on the fridge and then we were practising identifying them.
Because of pandemic, One day we decided to thank the NHS and I told my son to write “STAY SAFE AND WE LOVE NHS” and he chose the correct letters and arranged them on
the fridge. We wrote the sentence together, by practising letters and sounds.
I think we should combine both education with joy at home, at school and in our real lives. We can learn the importance of something by enjoying it.”
09: Footage of the fire at Samos refugee camp, Greece, in May 2020.
10: Footage of the fire at Samos refugee camp, Greece, in May 2020.
14: Footage of the fire at Samos refugee camp, Greece, in May 2020.
“My name is Malema Yusuf. I am 23 years old. I come from a small farming village in Darfur, Sudan. I had to leave my home and family when I was 20 years old. As a member of the Masalit tribe, we have been subject over many years to violent attacks by armed militias who want to kill us. I had to escape and flee the conflict. I left behind my mother, father, five brothers and two sisters. They still live in fear, but not everyone gets to leave.
I came to UK in 2018. At first, I didn’t know anyone and I was really struggling. But when I was dispersed to Swansea, my life got much better. It’s a very welcoming place for asylum seekers and soon I made many friends here. Before the coronavirus, it was really good. I would go to the community gatherings at the SASS drop-ins on Fridays and Saturdays where I would meet people from many different countries. We were able to take English classes there. It was a friendly, sociable occasion and we would all eat together.
Since lockdown I’ve been very lonely. It has been very hard. I couldn’t speak to my family and friends at home in Darfur. I tried but sometimes there was no network. You have to spend a lot of money to talk with them on the phone - maybe £20 or £25. I couldn’t visit anybody here either.
I got depressed. No plans, nothing to do all day. It was a bad time. Too much time alone. Too much time to think. Too much time to worry. I worry about my family all the time, and especially since lockdown. Lots of people have suffered depression in lockdown, like me. In that sense, I am not alone.
Now everything is getting better. Step by step, I have found ways of tackling depression. When I feel lonely or frightened, I listen to my favourite music, like 50 Cent or Drake or Osman Hussain, and it makes me happier. I do a little dance, literally. Sometimes I go to the beach, see people, keeping my distance.
The virus has destroyed the economy of the country, but some people are helping each other more. I joined lots of zoom classes. English classes on zoom are amazing. You can hear everyone very clearly. I would like to say thank you to our teachers because they refused to stop teaching. They are very good people and very kind. Last Friday, I told the class about different types of Sudanese food; rice with chicken, lamb kebab, traditional Sudanese food. But unfortunately, I didn’t have enough money to buy the ingredients to cook my favourite dishes. But I will one day.
We have a lovely garden behind our house and when we don’t have things to do, we try to do our best to make it beautiful, to grow things, exercise, play football. Better every day. Last Monday I spoke to my mum. That made me so happy. She’s well. Sometimes I get so worried about them because I can’t contact them. I don’t know if they are ok.
We do not know what is going to happen next in the future. We don’t yet have a vaccine to prevent the virus but my message is – never give up.”
17: A message from a refugee living under lockdown.