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Dreams

I dream of a life of peace. My father is from Palestine. I have always wondered what it would be like to live there. Even in Damascus we were refugees but it was nice there before the war. Neighbours and friends would come round every day, we laughed, chatted and ate orange-coloured rice with meat together. Above our apartment there was a roof-top terrace with a swing where I used to play and look up at the stars. When we only look at things around us, we don't see enough. When we look far up into the sky, we can see so much more. I want to be an astronaut and discover something new. When I look up into the sky, I sometimes forget just how much I've lost. All the people. If I see a shooting star, I make a wish.
Sireen al-Semadi (16) arrived from Syria with her family in 2013


Faith

My mother was a Christian and my father a Muslim. What's the problem? We all have the same God. I celebrate Christmas and when it's Ramadan, I try to fast. Since I've been in Germany, I've been to a church twice and once to a mosque. My mother died giving birth to me and when I was five years old my father died as well. The fact that I'm still alive has only strengthened my faith and makes me think that I definitely have to achieve something in my life. I'm not really that religious. There have been lots of situations where I've needed my parents, just to talk to them. I really want to work but I'm not allowed to. I can't understand it. When I have a problem, I don't ask God but my teachers. They help me.
Kamarou Adeniyi (19) from Benin. He arrived in Germany alone in 2013.

Home

Given the option today, I'd rather die at home in Afghanistan than relive my journey to Germany. My home never really meant that much to me. I don't have any good memories of it. Home should be a place where you're not persecuted and you can live in peace. I've been living in Bremen for 5 years now. I'm about to start the twelfth grade and get my Abitur (high school diploma.) I'm a big Werder Bremen fan and cheer every time they score. I know Germany is my home but I'm alone. My family now lives in Iran. They won't come here. In Iran they can speak the language and so can work. The only photos I had of family I had to throw into the sea. Everything had to be thrown overboard otherwise we would've sunk. We even had to bail water out of the boat. I have nothing.
Ewaz Babaie (23) from Afghanistan. He arrived in Germany alone in 2010.

Chances

I want to be a doctor. I've wanted it ever since I was a kid. I like to look for challenges because I want people to say: "Cynthia did that!" I like the thought of working in Germany. In Syria it wouldn't have been a given. There it's clearly defined what a woman does and what a man does. In Germany it doesn't make a difference. As a woman here I have to be able to do everything. I have to go on my own to the bank, the council offices, the job centre. This is still totally weird for me. My mother never worked in Syria but here she's thinking about it. All of us have a goal. It's only hard for my father. He was a businessman in Syria but now he sits in the refugee home, doesn't understand the language and gets very down. I hope it passes.
Cynthia Barssimian (19) arrived from Syria with her family in 2014.

Germany

I can finally sleep again here in Germany. In Syria I couldn't sleep at all at the end. Everywhere there were terrorists, bombs, war. All the Syrians want to come to Germany because we believe that Germany is the nicest and safest country in Europe. The German people are friendly and speak to us with respect. I know though that some say that the refugees are not good people. That really worries me sometimes. But that's rare. I don't think too much about things ever since I came here. I'm just happy, always happy. On my way to the main station I even met a girl who was half German, half Italian. Now we're together. And when we're together, we only speak German.
Hambar al-Husein (18) arrived from Syria with his brothers six months ago.

Family

My father was a tailor. He wanted me to study one day. When he died, we left Afghanistan for Germany. My mother thought my two brothers and me would have the best chances here. We were separated on the Turkish-Bulgarian border and only my oldest brother and me got across. For five months we were waiting for my mother and brother. For a long time we didn't know where they were or how they were doing. We now feel safe again. I want to do my Abitur (High School Diploma) in Bremen, then study something to do with IT and find work here in the city. Then we'll be able to stay together and start a new life. I really hope we can stay here forever.
Mahdi Asgari (17) arrived with his family from Afghanistan in 2014.

Transcripts: Anant Agarwala, Rudi Novotny, Jeannette Otto, Leonie Seifert