10 questions with: Malik Abdullah (20) / Shero Mohammed (29)
From: Deir Ezzor, Syria / Damascus, Syria (Kurdish Syrian)
At City Plaza since: 06.16 / 07.16
- What does City Plaza mean to you?
A safe place. The most important thing at City Plaza is that everyone has a safe place to live here. It’s not like it is in the camps and detention centers.
City Plaza means hope for everyone here, it’s a place where we can find hope for our futures.
A safe place. It’s the best place for any of us to be in Greece. City Plaza feels like home.When I go out for a while and I’m walking back to Plaza, I look forward to the moment that I walk through the door.
- 3 words to describe the experience of living with 400 others at City Plaza:
Language, friendship, patience
Family, cooking, safety
- What are the differences between the camps and City Plaza?
Oooh-ooh! There are a lot of differences. A lot. A lot.
The conditions we live in are worlds apart. At City Plaza we have safety. We have dignity. We are treated as humans, not just as refugees. We have opportunities to be busy, productive and active. Living in the camps you have the opposite of all of these things.
If I hadn’t come to City Plaza, if I’d had to stay living in a camp, I think I’d have left and gone back to Syria.
- Where is your favourite place to be at City Plaza?
Everywhere is a good place to be here as long as we’re with our close friends spending time together.
429 (Malik and Shero’s room number). It’s where we have everything that we need to feel like we’re at home. Warmth, tea, coffee, a space to spend time with friends, to sleep, to play cards, to listen to music.
- What are your hopes for your future?
I want to create a good life for myself. I want to study languages. English and Swedish. Language is so important. Without language you can’t do anything.
(Nods in agreement) Exactly. I hope I will have the chance to study English too.
I want to create a good life for my family, to have everything to really live like a human again. I want to get back to working professionally as a chef (Shero last worked as a head chef of a restaurant).
I would love to have my own shop or restaurant. To start a new chapter, to have customers, to create a an atmosphere and a great reputation with my food.
- What will you miss about City Plaza?
One of the best things that City Plaza has given us is strong friendships and memories with friends that will never be forgotten. Our memories with Rabee (in December Rabee left for France after 9 months living at City Plaza). Those days that we all spent together as best friends will never be forgotten.
Haisam, Malik, Rabee and Shero in Athens
I will miss the memories with Rabee too. I’ll miss the social life here. We’ve spent so many nice days together, sharing our time at City Plaza with people who have become family. These memories are so strong. I won’t forget a single moment, in all my life.
- How do you participate in the self-organisation of City Plaza?
As a chef. From the moment I arrived at City Plaza I found my place in the kitchen.
I have always been part of the general organisation at City Plaza. As my English isn’t good enough at the moment to translate, I mostly run errands. And I work at the bar making teas and coffee and in the kitchen preparing food.
- Have you learnt any words here in the languages of refugees from other countries?
When I arrived I could already speak Arabic, Turkish and Kurdish. Since being here I have learnt the basics in Farsi.
I can say the basics (hello/how are you?/I’m fine, and you?/thank you/goodbye) in all the languages spoken here.
- What is your best memory so far at City Plaza?
It has to be the first day of Eid. I was one of the chefs in the kitchen team preparing the food for the day. We didn’t sleep for 2 days. 100 kilos of chicken. 50 kilos of rice. Visitors came from outside to celebrate with us so we were cooking for 600 people.
Shero and the kitchen team before the food was served on the first day of Eid
By the end I was so sleepy, so tired. I remember being in the kitchen and looking around at all the surfaces (laughs), all I could see was beds.
When the food was served everything went so smoothly. The atmosphere was amazing. It was a day when so many people woke up feeling sad to not to be sharing the day with their families, but we created a celebration that meant we all became one big family.
- 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 humanity.
Solidarity means love and sharing struggle.
I want to say thank you to everyone who has been here to help and to everyone who supports City Plaza from afar. Their words, efforts and smiles, these mean a lot. Thank you.
Detail of the day:
Today I’m the chef in the kitchen for the evening meal. We’re cooking pasta with creamy garlic sauce today.
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