Laila Keeling & Anjali Zyla
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I was born in Nigeria, but I left when I was a baby, so I don’t really know what life was like there. My family moved to Sierra Leone when I was young, and I stayed with them there for around 10 or 11 years. I wasn’t able to attend school at all growing up or in the refugee camps, so I haven’t been able to get an education yet. I ran away from my parents in Sierra Leone and fled to Italy, where I stayed in a refugee camp in Apulia with my husband and two children. My husband was trying to work there, but it was hard to find work and the salaries were low. We wanted to move out of the camp, but the rent was too high. So, we came to Germany because we thought there would be more work here.

We first arrived in Germany in mid-2017 and were sent to Eisenhüttenstadt. They denied our application for asylum and sent us here, to a new camp. We appealed the decision, but they denied it again, so we don’t have any documents. I was granted permission to stay in Germany two years ago, but I haven’t been able to work or go to a German course yet because of the children. My children need to be able to get a spot in the daycare so that I can have time to work or go to a German course. My eldest is in school here, and she likes her school and has friends there. So, I would like to enroll my other two children in daycare, but I can’t get a spot for them.

Our main problem right now is that we can’t get an apartment. Life in the Heim is not that good. I don’t have any friends here because most people in the Heim don’t speak English. My children have some friends, but the playroom has been closed for two years now because of Corona. So, they have to play in our room, but our room is very small. It’s very hard to live all together in one room. It’s better than living on the streets, but we would still like to move out, especially because we have small children. But there’s nothing we can do at the moment because we can’t find an apartment that we can afford. My husband is going to a German course now and works at a restaurant. He also has a welding certificate from our time in Italy, but he needs a B1 language level. For now, all he can do is go to the German course so that he can find work at some point in the future. I would also like to go to a German course so that I can work, and I would take any job that helps me provide for my children.

I think that I’ll be able to be happy here in Germany once we are able to move into a new apartment and I can take classes. It’s been hard here so far. I lost my son in 2018, and it was a very dark moment for me. I was able to see a psychologist, and things have been getting a little better since then, but I’m still stuck here. I don’t have an apartment, I don’t have school, I don’t have a job. I just need to be able to take classes, and things will be better. This is my opportunity to finally go to school. If I could go to school, I could see myself working and being independent. That is my wish. I want to live another life.

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