Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Story of a Traumatized Iraqi Refugee in Stockholm

It's Valentine's Day but the following post is nothing related to that.

It's about a story that has been haunting me since I first heard about it. He told me his story and I couldn't and still can't imagine the amount of sadness he has. I decided to write his story after I watched a TV program about this movie:-

Well, he is an Iraqi gentalman who fled Iraq looking for a better tomorrow in Sweden. Let's call him Ahmed. Ahmed is in his mid 40s but he looked like way older than his real age. That was fully understood; bearing in mind what he has gone through.

I noticed that Ahmed has a huge difficulty in learning at the SFI (Swedish language for Immigrants) classes. I was so frustrated by his many questions to me about what we were learning. He couldn't ask the teacher because his Swedish is almost zero. I asked him; you can ask the teacher in English like how I do. "I don't speak English neither," he replied. I was curious to know why he didn't learn English but I didn't ask him. I didn't want to be rude.

On a different occasion, during an event (that was something about jobbs and employment) at the Cultural House in Stockholm last Friday, I met him again and I conversed him. We jumped from a subject to another then I tenderly asked him, "How come you didn't learn English?" Then, I got the shocking news .. he told me about his horrific background and it went like this:-

"I was only 8 years old when Saddam Hussein's regime forced me out of school, like many many other kids in Iraq, to join the army because of the war. While kids are supposed to be getting education at schools and playing with their peers, that was not the case for me as a child. Instead, I was at the army carrying weapons.

Most of Arabs are fooled by Saddam's glory. Whomever admires Saddam is really fooled. Saddam stole my childhood and others' and destroyed lives of so many people. As you may know, Iraq was in a constant war; with this or that country for many years. We never took a rest. I was so close to death many times and I have seen many people dying infront of me many times as well. I saw how Saddam committed genocide to many Kurdish villages. He killed them all like they were insects. I have witnessed with my own naked eyes kurdish people being buried alive. I have seen some of the most horrific things in this life."

With a tiny smile in his face he added, "And Arabs still think Saddam was one of the best Arab leaders. I swear God, Saddam never had a small piece of humanity or Islam. He feared nothing; neither his conscious nor Allah."

Ahmed continued on, "With all that trauma, I managed to continue my life. I became a cars mechanic and make my living. I had beautiful wife and two kids. During the American invision, I worked with American journalists who came to report about the situation. I worked as guide and mechanic for their cars. Whenever the cars got broken, I was there to fix them. I worked with Laura, the American journalist who was so brave; reporting about the mischievous acts American did against innocent Iraqi citizens.

Time passed and al-Qaeda Militia considered me as a traitor. They threatened me several times."

Then, his voice got really shaky and his eyes started tearing. He told me, "The Militia bombed my house while my wife, my two kids, my mother and my brother were there. They all were killed in one bomb. I came home and they all were murdered."

At that moment, my heart was about to burst out of my chest and Ahmed was holding back his tears but his full face turned into red. Then, he just cried and I cried with him for brief moments.

The conversation went on and I eventually advised him to see a psychiatrist because that was really traumatizing. He told me that he seeks strength from Allah but he might consider the thought to see a psychiatrist.

I often meet refugees in Stockholm who has something worth to tell. Ahmed is not the only person who has a heartbreaking story. There are many Ahmeds in Sweden and in the whole world. I wrote his story because it really haunts me down everywhere I go and it made me cry several times when I recall it. I'm already a traumatized girl and his story really resonated to me. I'm writing it down because writing is truly my therapy.