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This is a project for the FAU university and DAAD

Mirror mirror
on the wall...
a portrait of Refugees
and their stories

This project portrays the reasons for refugees fleeing their home countries and their present situation. It tells the story about people and their struggle to find a new home. Above all, it is however an invitation to engage in a dialogue with ‘the other’, with society and with oneself.

Fateh was born in Iran where he studied Computer Science at a university in Bukan. His dream was to work for a big IT company like Google, Apple or Microsoft. During his studies he became involved with the Kurdistan Democratic Party and became politically engaged. Because of his political activities, Iran was no longer a safe place for him, so he decided to flee.
In 2016 he came to Europe. After a long bureaucratic fight for the right to remain in Germany he was finally granted refugee status in 2019. Having completed an apprenticeship with adidas IT team, he started working on making his dreams come true and set up his own company which designs websites. One of his latest projects is this virtual exhibition you are viewing right now. This was possible thanks to DAAD PROFI Project. To see more of Fateh's work or contact him or visit his website.

“Every day I have tried to learn
something new and focus on the
future. That’s what saved me.”

Tareq was born in Hama, Syria. He comes from the desert. Tareq was a teacher before he arrived in Germany. Now he lives in Nuremberg and he is still a teacher in his ”head, heart and with his hands“. But even though he has a university degree and work experience in teaching, he is not allowed to teach in Bavarian schools. Because of this, he is studying secondary school education with a focus on History, German and Art. Tareq will teach again, in Germany this time.

“The most difficult part of fleeing is
that you take your home country with
you, no matter where you go.”

Svitlana was born in Charzysk, Ukraine, which is close to Donetsk. She studied Business Mathematics there and worked later as a banker. Donetsk, she explains, was once a city full of roses, today the city is more like a thorn in the eyes of western politicians, who do not want to see the war in the Ukraine as such.

Svitlana has been in asylum proceedings for five years now and every six months she must extend her permission to reside. The next deadline for an extension is the 19th November 2019. Her biggest dream is to not always have to worry about what is going to happen to her every six months.

“In Ukrainian we say: If you want to
hide something, put it where everybody
can see it. There is war on the doorstep
of the European Union and nobody
wants to see it. nobody wants
to see us either”

Mubarak was born in Gunagado, Ethiopia and went to school in Gashamo. His grades were so good that he received a full scholarship to study. The future looked bright, and Mubarak only had to wait until the semester started. Mornings he worked in his brother’s grocery store and afternoons he played football with his friends, until one day everything changed. Mubarak’s bro­ther bought dates for his store, but what he didn’t know was that Somalian separatists had hidden weapons in the shipment. Unfortunately, it was the police who found the weapons during a routine inspection. This was a death sentence for his brother. Mubarak should also have been taken to prison. The football pitch, he played on that day, is where Mubarak saw his village for the very last time. He had to leave without being able to pack or say good-bye.

He has been in Germany since 2014, where his asylum application continues to this day. His dream is now to study Computer Science.

“I only knew how important home
was to me once i had to move
I had to move
so far away from it.”

Sadegh knows about Afghanistan primarily from his parents’ stories. He was born in Iran, where his family had fled to from the Taliban. There he learned to be a tailor. He had actually always wanted to be a teacher, but because of his ethnic background as an Afghan in Iran, it was out of the question.

In 2013, he was deported to Afghanistan. This is when he saw his parents’ country for the first time. However, it was not his home. In 2015, he came to Germany and since then he has been building a new life for himself. He is currently training to become a nurse and working towards getting his driver’s license. He dreams that his family will be reunited one day.

“In Iran they used say to me: you are an
Afghan. In Afghanistan it was the
other way round: you are an Iranian,
they said. In Germany they say: you
are a refugee. And I say: I am Sadegh.”

Banan was born in Bagdad, Iraq. When she was 19, she married Aws and moved to Tikrit, where she studied Mathematics and later worked as a teacher. In 2011 she and her husband bought their dream house on the idyllic banks of the Tigris. They had to wait two years until they could finally move in. They had only lived there for a year when it was destroyed by bombs of IS.

In July of 2014, they left Tikrit and fled to Germany. They live in Nuremberg now. In their shared apartment Banan was able to restore some of their life’s dreams they once shared on the banks of the Tigris.

“Germany is a free country, but
in order to get a job I have to
discard my headscarf.”

Andrii was born in Yenakiyeve, Ukraine. In Donetsk he was an entrepreneur and a father. When it became clear to him that the Ukraine was on the brink of war, he moved his family to a more secure place, under the protection of NATO. He fought against the Russian occupation of his beloved country for one year and then he left with his mother-in-law and followed his family to Germany, to take care of them there.

In Germany he is not recognised as a refugee, just like the war in Ukraine has not been recognised as such. Andrii hasn’t given up though, he is continuing to fight for his right to remain in Germany, for the safety of his family and to raise awareness for the struggle in the Ukraine. He uses every opportunity to give the voiceless a voice.

“Although I love my country I had to
give up fighting for the Ukraine.
In Germany, where I now live, you
call it a conflict. But when I left
Donetsk a stench of dead bodies still
still permeated the air.”

Nour was born in Damascus, Syria. According to tradition, as the oldest grandchild he should be named for his grandfather and additionally take on his roll in the community. However, he did not want this for himself, instead he wanted to make his own way in the world. Soon not only the tradion, but also the country reached out for him: Nour was meant to be subscripted into the army.

In 2015 he fled to Germany. He soon engaged himself here with diverse social projects for children and youths. Above all he organises cooking and dancing courses, because he believes, that music and good food is the best way to bring different cultures together.

“We are in Germany now. We finally
made it. But there is still a lot to be
done. And I am sure: We can do it, too.”

Aws was born in Tikrit, Iraq. His father was a police officer. He was shot and killed when Aws was a little boy. As a result, he had to quickly learn to take care of himself. While he was still studying, he opened his first boutique and after he graduated, he opened four more. The business was running well up until 2014, when IS first occupied the city. That was when he realised, that he had to flee. His young son should not have to grow up without a father.

Today Aws and his family live in Germany and he works as a salesperson in a boutique. He would like to one day run his own fashion business or even create fashion himself.

“In Germany men and women are
equal. My wife can walk by herself
in the city without being affraid.
That makes her stronger and more
self-confident and I like that.”

Nisreen was born in Damascus, Syria. She studied English Literature and later worked as an English teacher. She left Syria in August 2015 and arrived in Germany 27 days later.

Currently, she is acquiring experience in different companies: by way of an apprenticeship first at Adidas and now at Siemens. She would soon like to commence a master’s degree in Human Rights, so that she can work in an international NGO in future.

“To be a bridge between worlds that
are so different requires strength,
patience, endless courage
and above all: love.”

Abiy was born in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia where he studied Psychology. Alongside other students, he organised printing of illegal flyers in 2016, in order to inform the rural population that they were entitled to compensation, as a large portion of their land was seized in order to make room for the expanding capital city. This led to protests and demonstrations. As a result, Abiy and his fellow students were imprisoned and tortured. This was to force them to confess to being members of the illegal Oromo Liberation Front. He knew he would have to flee the country as soon as he was released from prison.

He applied for asylum at the Frankfurt airport. Abiy was not recognised as a refugee and received a tolerance status. He wanted to continue his studies but is now looking for a place in a training program, so that he will be allowed to stay in Germany. In Ethiopia, he worked as a music therapist for children. He was offered a job in a Kindergarten in Fürth, but he was unable to take it up because the Immigration Authority did not give him a permission to work.

“They preach to us about democracy,
but in the end, they don‘t want
to hear anything about it.”