24/01/17

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10 questions with: Hamed Ganji (23)
From: Iran (Afghan Iranian)
At City Plaza since: 04/16

  1. What does City Plaza mean to you?

For me City Plaza is paradise. Here I don’t think ‘I’m from Afghanistan, you’re from England’, I just think ‘we’re family’. This building is all of our home.

  1. 3 words to describe the experience of living with 400 others at City Plaza:

Challenging, amazing, strength

  1. For you what is the main difference between the camps and City Plaza?

What’s the difference between the camps and City Plaza? It’s hell vs paradise.
Here  (counts on his fingers) we have hot water, enough food, safety, a doctor, there’s no racism, no violence.
I don’t wish for anyone to live in the camps. (
Hamed lived in 4 different camps and on the street before coming to City Plaza).

  1. Where is your favourite place to be at City Plaza?

I love every place! I can’t choose one. You know, City Plaza is like a pagoda on the edge of a village. It’s where we all have come to finally be relaxed and safe.
I like being in the bar, sitting with everyone and taking a break in the day, drinking coffee, being calm.
I love to be in my bed, in the reception, the kitchen.
My room is my love! My bed is my God! My pillow is my wife!

  1. What are your hopes for your future?

I want everyone here at City Plaza to get to where they want to go. I want for the world to be without war. I want the borders to open. I want for everyone, everywhere to understand that we are all human. And most of all: I want racism to stop.
I miss my job in Iran. (
Hamed worked as an interior designer). I didn’t work for money, I was really in love with my work. In the future I want to work again of course, but first I hope I can go to a university and study.

  1. What will you miss about City Plaza?

I can’t leave Plaza. I love Plaza.
When I was in Iran always they said to me ‘you’re from Afghanistan’ and every time it crushed my heart. At school the headteacher would ask ‘who is from Afghanistan?’ and I had to raise my hand in shame. You know, I wanted to die at school. ‘Afghan’ has been a dirty word all my life.
But at City Plaza, it has been the first time that I don’t feel ashamed of where my family are from. It’s a big risk for me to leave City Plaza. I’m scared. I don’t want people to treat me as dirty again. I don’t want to leave paradise.

  1. How do you participate in the self-organisation of City Plaza?

Cooking (smiles). I was a chef here for 2 months when City Plaza first opened, now I work preparing the food.

(See Hamid in action in the kitchen below)

  1. Have you learnt any words here in the languages of refugees from other countries?

Now I can say the basics in Arabic, Urdu, Turkish and Kurdish.

  1. What is your best memory so far at City Plaza?

The first day. I was one of the first 50 refugees through the door. There were at least 100 people inside waiting for us. Every single person said ‘welcome’. I wanted to cry, really. It was so amazing for me.

  1. City Plaza is not supported by NGOs and is supported entirely by donations from around the world . What does solidarity mean to you?

Solidarity means no borders. If everyone thought without borders and wanted to welcome refugees as humans, we could all be safe together.
Life for us is very hard, when people understand this and want to help, this is solidarity.

Detail of the day:

Today I woke up at 9 o’clock this morning to go to Greek classes.

City Plaza relies entirely on solidarity and donations from around the world. To keep this project going City Plaza needs your support: www.youcaring.com/keepcityplazaopen

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