In Chechnya we had three cows, 15 goats, a few sheep, chickens and rabbits. I made butter and cheese myself; once a year we slaughtered a cow. Chickens provide eggs with which you can do all kinds of things and, of course, you can eat the chickens, just like rabbits. We were largely self-sufficient. My husband also worked as an electrician and I went to the market almost every day to sell cakes and cookies. I loved going to the market. There I met many people and was always talking to others. When I had to stay home for a week, I got a headache. People need to go out and have something to do, otherwise they will go bad.

My son became seriously ill and we could not get medical care for him. The hospitals wanted to see money and we also had to pay more than we could for the medications. So we decided to go to Europe seven years ago. I was 25 at the time, my husband 32. Friends and relatives collected money to pay for the trip. First we went by train to Belarus and then by car to Eisenh├╝ttenstadt. It actually went pretty fast.

We first lived in Luckenwalde for five years and here for two years. My son was operated on several times, but it was already too late. He died. We have five more children, three girls and two boys. The oldest is 13, the youngest 5 months. None of the children want to go back to Chechnya, we are at home here.

In Chechnya, it is dangerous. You can always suddenly be picked up by the police. This also happened to my husband. He was quickly released, after all, he never did anything against the government. It was a mistake, they said. But the fear never goes away.

We have two rooms at our disposal. Of course, with five children, that’s not always easy. It causes quite a lot of stress, often we can’t sleep well because there’s always someone awake, and it’s all bad for your health.

My oldest daughter often has problems with other children, at school and also here in the camp. She then hits those children as well. The kids at school don’t leave her alone, spit at her. I have told her to talk to them, and not to hit them, but she does it anyway. So, the parent of another school child reported it to the police. Suddenly the Crime Police was on the doorstep. Who does something like that? They are children. Since then, every week someone from the Youth Office comes by to help us. The man also takes us by car to the child psychologist in Potsdam, whom we visit for our 7-year-old son. He doesn’t want to talk and play at school. During breaks, when the other children go outside to play, he stays inside and reads a book. The doctor has written to Social Services that we need our own home so that we have less stress. But we have not received a response to that.

My husband doesn’t really do anything, other than sleep, eat, look on his Handy, smoke and occasionally play with the kids a little. He is not allowed to work. Of course he could do it black, but that’s too dangerous. They might send us back to Chechnya, and we want to avoid that in any case. So in Chechnya he worked as an electrician. I myself would like to work in child care, or elder care, or sell something at the market again.

We now have a Temporary residence permit (Aufenthaltsgestattung), which has to be renewed every six months. This uncertainty about our future also causes tensions.

In Chechnya, I went to school for 7 years. Then I had to take care of my sick grandmother. That was hard. I did that until she died, and then I got married.

I went to German classes for 8 months, here in Germany. That’s how I was able to get to the A2 level. Then I joined a chat group with volunteers where one could practice one’s German (her level is now definitely B2 – HTB). My daughters of 13 and 8 speak only German, from them of course I learn a lot too. My husband doesn’t speak German at all. He went to German classes twice and then quickly came to the conclusion that German was too difficult for his head.

I have German acquaintances who I got to know through my children’s school and through the support group. We meet in Luckenwalde to do some shopping and also go to Berlin together with the children.

Once a month, when we have received the money from Social Services, I go to Berlin to shop. Fifteen kilos of meat and ten kilos of fish. The children want to eat meat and my oldest daughter only fish. We grow our own vegetables in our garden. It’s twenty minutes from here. We go there almost every day with the children. It would be nice if we could also keep chickens here and maybe rabbits. However, you have to ask permission for this and the neighbors didn’t like it.

All our family is still in Chechnya. My mother is all alone. She cries a lot when I WhatsApp with her. I would like to bring her to Germany. Here at the camp, I have good contacts with the other adults. We drink coffee together outside when the weather is nice. It is a pity that the children fight with each other.

For my children I will do anything. I want them not to have as much stress as I had with my grandmother. I would like them to do well in school and for us to have our own home. I also want to be able to work to make this possible. I don’t understand how other people get housing, often very quickly, and we don’t. I have asked for this time and time again, but no one answers. I don’t understand.

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