Category: <span>Portraits</span>

English version coming soon.

Wie heißt du und wie alt bist du?

Mein Name ist Amin und ich bin 24 Jahre alt.

Woher kommst du, Amin?

Geboren bin ich in Teheran. Aufgewachsen bin ich aber in der Zwei-Millionen-Stadt Karaj, die ungefähr 30 Kilometer von Teheran entfernt ist. In Teheran hat ich später studiert.

Wo lebt deine Familie?

Meine Eltern leben immer noch in Teheran. Ich habe dort auch einen jüngeren Bruder.

Warum bist du ausgerechnet nach Österreich gekommen und nicht in ein anderes Land?

Ich hatte nur sehr wenig Zeit, um aus dem Iran wegzukommen. Also konnte ich mir nicht genau aussuchen, wo ich hin wollte. Was ich auf jeden Fall wollte, war in ein Land zu gehen, in dem ich keine Familie habe. Also bin ich nach Österreich. Aber ein paar Tage nachdem ich hier angekommen war, sagte mir meine Mutter, ich hätte einen Verwandten hier in Wien. Der lebt sogar nur fünf Minuten von mir entfernt.

Wie lange bist du schon hier?

Ich lebe schon über zwei Jahre in Österreich. Letzte Woche hatte ich mein erstes Interview. Es war gut, denke ich. Der Beamte hat mich sogar gebeten, für ihn einen Aufsatz über die Beziehung zwischen Iran und Österreich zu schreiben.

Was hast du in deiner Heimat vor deiner Flucht gemacht?

Ich habe studiert und zwei Bachelor gemacht, einen in Finanzmanagement und einen in vergleichender Literaturwissenschaft.

Welche Sprachen sprichst du?

Meine Muttersprache ist Farsi. Kurdisch verstehe ich ganz gut.
Weiters spreche ich sehr gut Englisch und Französisch. Ein klein wenig spreche ich auch Schwedisch, weil ich als Kind oft von meinen Verwandten in Schweden die Sprache gehört und das imitiert habe. So konnte ich ein bisschen Schwedisch lernen. Und jetzt spreche ich schon Deutsch und bin im A2-Kurs.

Wo lebst du jetzt?

Ich lebe in Wien in einer Wohnung, die der Kirche gehört.

Welche kulturellen Unterschiede sind dir zwischen deiner Heimat und Österreich aufgefallen?

Es gibt sicher viele kulturellen Unterschiede, aber ich nehme sie nicht so wahr. Ich bin daran gewöhnt, weil ich mit verschiedenen Kulturen aufgewachsen bin. Natürlich gibt es Unterschiede, aber für mich ist das nicht so schwierig.

Was ist denn das Schwierigste für dich in Österreich?

Das Schwerste für mich ist, dass ich die Verbindung zu meinem Vater verloren habe. Daran arbeite ich aber jetzt gerade. Und dass ich von meinen finanziellen Ressourcen abgeschnitten bin, ist auch nicht einfach.

Welche Pläne hast du für deine Zukunft in Österreich?

Das größte kurzfristige Ziel ist, sehr gut Deutsch zu lernen. Ich will jetzt neun Stunden am Tag gut Deutsch lernen – Grammatik, lesen, hören und schreiben.
Das langfristige Ziel ist, an die Universität zu kommen und dort Rechtswissenschaften zu studieren, den Abschluss zu machen und zu arbeiten.
Das Beste hier ist, dass ich jetzt die Freiheit habe, das zu machen, was ich möchte.

Welche Hobbies hast du?

Ich liebe das Kino! Ich bin Filmliebhaber und mag besonders satirische Filme. Aber mein größtes Hobby ist die Musik! Ich höre gerne Musik, liebe es, mich damit zu beschäftigen und spiele akkustische und auch elektrische Gitarre. Ein wenig auch Drums.
Ich mag einfach Kunst!

Möchtest du sonst noch etwas sagen?

Ich will einfach sagen, dass ich glaube, dass das größte Problem mit dem Krieg ist, dass es einen eklatanten Mangel an Bildung und Verständnis gibt. Die junge Generation dahingehend zu unterstützen, würde alles besser machen.


Wir ermöglichen Amin gmeinsam mit einer andere Organisation den Besuch eines A2/1 – B1/1-Kurses am Sprachzentrum der Universität Wien.

yusefWhat is your name and how old are you?

My name is Yusef and I am 18 years old.

Where are you from?

I come from Syria, from the Kurdish city of Hasaka. Later I lived in Damascus.

Why did you come to Austria?

Because there is war in our country and I should join the Syrian army at the age of 18. The PKK also enlists all men over the age of 18 to their army. But I do not want to fight.

I wanted to come to Austria because the husband of my sister was in Austria for a year and three months.


Where does your family live?

One of my sisters has a husband who works in Istanbul. That is why we went there. Now my parents and two of my sisters are living in Istanbul. Another sister is living in Macedonia near the Greek border. My brother Shivan lives with me and two of my brothers are still in Damascus.

I am the youngest of the siblings.

What did you do in your homeland?

From age seven I went to school. I had to repeat two classes because of constant conflicts; I could not go to school very often. I couldn’t finish a further year because during the mid-year school holidays, the fighting was coming closer and closer to my parents’ house and I couldn’t leave the house. So I finished elementary school a few years later than usual. Normally you finish elementary school aged 12, I was over 14 when I finished. It was very difficult in Damascus. I am a Kurd and Sunni and lived with my family in a district where only Shiites live. After school I worked for a year in a sweet shop as a salesman, because I couldn’t go anywhere.

At the age of 15, I fled to a relative in Qamishle: my brother Shivan, who is two years older than me, had previously escaped there too. My whole family apart from two brothers came with me. The situation was getting progressively worse. We stayed for about seven months in Qamishle then we fled with the family to Turkey. My brother Shivan was already there. He was working in a factory as a tailor. I lived in Istanbul for a while and worked with Shivan in a textile factory. Then we decided to go to Europe.

Which languages do you speak?

I speak Arabic and Kurdish. A bit of English and a little German. I taught myself English during the last year.

What are your hobbies?

I play football!

What plans do you have for your future in Austria?

I would like to become a football professional, play in a club, train.

If that does not work, I would like to work as a tailor and learn this profession really well.

What would you like from the Austrians?

I wish more help learning German from the Austrians, because that is the key to everything else. I just want starting help, that’s very important. After that I would like to do everything myself.

Would you like to say something else?

Yes: Thanks for everything, thank you! And I promise to become a good fellow citizen in Austria.


With the help of donors we have financed a German A2 course from September to November (fees and tickets) for Yusef.
Now we hope that with the help of generous donors he will be able to attend the follow-up course from mid-November.

nikolausklWhat is your name and how old you are?

My name is Aws, but in Austria I call myself Nikolaus. I am 35 years old.

Where are you from?

I come from the district of Al Karadh in Baghdad city in Iraq. About two months ago some bombs exploded there killing 191 people. This was in all the newspapers in Austria.

Where does your family live?

My mother and my two brothers still live in Baghdad. Sadly, my father died five years ago.

What did you do in your homeland?

I was a cameraman for Channel Baghdad. I had a team with which I made reports on different topics and contributions for the news.

Why did you come to Austria?

There is a religious war taking place in Iraq. The militia persecutes anyone who works for television. I have been shot at; the bullet seriously injured my leg. The militia caught me and beat me up badly. Following the trauma of this experience, I lost all the hair on my body overnight.
Following that, I escaped to Turkey and waited there for a month; I was paralyzed with fear. Then I came across the sea in a small boat. They said we had to head in one direction for an hour and a half and then we would reach a small island. But after three hours we still hadn’t found an island. It was icy cold and completely dark. Everyone on the boat was in panic. We were able to contact the coast guard using a mobile phone and the Greek coast guard saved us with a ship.

Which languages do you speak?

I speak Arabic, a little bit of English and now a little German.

What are your hobbies?

I like swimming, but I’m a bit afraid of the water now. I like singing and listening to music. And I like to work-out to stay fit.

What plans do you have for your future in Austria?

I would very much like to work as a cameraman for television again. When I have work, I want to start a family and lead a normal life.

What do you want from Austria?

I wish from Austria that I can live here, that I can work here, so that I can feel safe again and have the chance to recover and process the painful experiences from Iraq

Would you like to say anything else?

Thanks, to all those who are helping me, sympathizing with me and taking care of me, here in Austria. I very much hope the rules for refugees will become easier, they are constantly changing and we are always afraid that we will have to leave. We love the people here; they have helped us a lot. I sincerely hope to have a good future here.


With the help of donations we have financed Nikolaus to attend a German A1+ course (course fees and travel) from September to November.

fotosamerklWhat is your name and how old are you?

My name is Samer, I’m 26 years old.

Where are you from?

I’m from Syria. My hometown Idleb, was bombarded again a week ago with phosphorus bombs.

Why did you come to Austria?

I came to Austria because of the war in my country. There are bombs and terror. My brother came here before me, I wanted to join him. Also I read on the internet that Vienna has often been voted the city with the highest living standard. This was also a reason to come.

Where are your family living?

My parents, one brother and a sister are still in Syria. My father is a farmer and was a history teacher before his retirement. Two of my brothers are living in Qatar, one sister is married there. One of my brothers attained asylum in Austria and is living in Vienna.

What did you do back home?

I studied marketing in Aleppo, but I had to give up my studies before finishing. Aleppo is on the side of the Syrian President: my hometown was the first city to turn against Assad. So it became very dangerous for me to continue going to university. There were students from my hometown who were simply arrested and imprisoned. There is a vast spy network at the University of Aleppo. Anyone who says anything against the president is sent to prison and terrorized.

Also, the University campus was targeted in a bomb attack in which 91 students were killed.

After stopping of studies I was helping my father on the farm.

Which languages do you speak?

I speak English and Arabic.

What are your hobbies?

I ‘m a photographer and have a Facebook page for my pictures with many followers. Photography is more than a hobby. I already have a job prospect once I get asylum.

Apart from that, I really like cycling and volleyball. I was introduced to Volleyball in Austria, I really enjoy it.

What plans do you have for your future in Austria?

If I get asylum, I want to learn to speak German really well. Then I would like to work to finance a degree in solar energy. There’s been a move away from the oil-dependent energy to clean energy. I think there will be many jobs in this sector.

What would you like from the Austrian people?

I would like refugees to get support in their first steps to quickly build a life here. No more. I didn’t come here to live on welfare. I would like to be able to work as soon as possible.

Is there anything else you would like to say?

Coming here, I expected everything to be complicated and strange. But when I arrived, I met people who helped me. They didn’t care which culture I came from or what religion I have. The only thing that mattered to them was humanity.

I’ve met the best people I will ever meet in my life. I can tell them everything, confide all my secrets. They are like family to me.

What they have done for us, not even my relatives would do: they have welcomed us into their home, given us food and helped us with everything. In my home country the younger generation probably wouldn’t do something like that anymore, but my father’s generation might.



From mid-September Samer will attend an A2 German course.

shivanWhat is your name and how old are you?

My name is Shvan, I’m 20 years old.

Where are you from?

I’m from Syria. I was born in the Kurdish city Hasaka, close to the borders of Iraq and Turkey. But later I moved to Damascus.



Why did you come to Austria?

Because of the war. The Kurdistan Workers’ Party – PKK – is very powerful in Hasaka. They force young men to join the militia. And the Syrian army is conscripting all men over 18 years. But I don‘t want to kill anyone.

Where are your family?

My parents and two of my sisters are in Istanbul. Two brothers are in Damascus. Sadly, one of them has been missing for the last two months. The police and the Iranian militia imprisoned him two months ago because he is Kurdish. Since then we haven’t heard from him. One of my sisters is in Macedonia another is in Linz and has applied for asylum there. My younger brother Yusef is here with me.

What did you do back home?

I was at school and during the holidays I always worked as a waiter. After school, I wanted to study the additional three years required to then go to university. I had hoped to study medicine. Unfortunately being a Kurd makes everything more difficult. I spent two years and two months living with relatives in Damascus until the PKK came and detained me for three days. They wanted me to fight with them. I told them I’d do it, but said that I needed to pick up something from a friend. They believed me and let me out of the prison and I fled immediately to Turkey. I was very lucky.

Which languages do you speak?

I speak Arabic and Kurdish. I grew up speaking both languages. As a refugee I spent seven months in Turkey and worked as a tailor. I learnt quite good Turkish during that time. And now I can speak a little German.

What are your hobbies?

I love music and playing the bouzouki which is a Kurdish stringed instrument. Sadly I couldn’t bring my bouzouki here with me. I like to sing along to it.

What plans do you have for your future in Austria?

I would like to take the Matura, go to university and study medicine. That’s always been my dream, but because of the situation at home I couldn’t continue my studies.

What do you want from Austria?

I am surprised by Austria. Every day there are different rules for refugees. That’s not good.

Would you like to say anything else?

I would like to say thank you to all those who understand me and help us. I know that these people are not responsible for the politics by which the rules are constantly changing. I hope that I can stay here. I don’t need a lot of help – I just want to learn and work in order to stay.



With the generous help of others we have been able to finance Shivan’s attendance at a German A2-course (tuition fee and travel) from September to November.
We hope that with further donations he will be able to take the following course from mid-December.

PortraitMohammadmittelWhat is your name?

My name is Mohammed.

How old are you?

I turned 19 on the first of July


Where are you from?

I come from Mosul in Iraq.

Why did you come to Austria?

The IS has occupied my city. It was dangerous for me. They come into the houses and take the young men to fight for them.

If a man drinks or smokes, he is publicly whipped. That they have done to me, because I smoked a cigarette in public. In Mosul I had to wear different clothes, I had no internet, I had to grow my beard and wasn’t allowed to have long hair. It would be a terrible and dangerous life for me there.

Where are your family?

My family still lives in Mosul. They could not come with me. But one of my brothers is in Tirol.

What were you doing at home?

I worked as a cosmetics salesman in my brother’s business.

Which languages do you speak?

I speak four languages: Arabic, German, Turkish and English. I already reached level A2 in German.

What are your hobbies?

My hobbies are swimming and fitness. In Iraq, I won a bronze medal in swimming.

What plans do you have for your future in Austria?

I definitely want to study and become a lawyer. When I’ve achieved that, I just want to get a good job as a lawyer, start a family and live a nice, normal life in Austria.

Would you like to say anything else?

I am very happy with the help I have received and I’d like to thank everyone who has helped me!



Mohammad learned from home with the help of a friend and a course book, including CDs to pass the German A1 course. He passed the A2 course this summer. With the help of donations he will attend a A2 + course from mid-September.