by Bahara Taheri
When Bahara Taheri arrived in Germany, she thought she was in Denmark. Everything that followed was an odyssey through Berlin. Mother in hospital and Closed Lageso landed her at police station.
Smugglers. When I was little, I was always afraid of this word. Already at that time my uncle had to flee from Afghanistan . Since then I have constantly heard about smugglers. These people were always coming in my worst dreams. We met many smugglers on our way from Afghanistan to Germany. They were all the time taking turns. They had no mercy.
They brought us to Berlin on 07.05.2015 . It was 5 of us : my mother, Zarghona (42), my brother Muhammad (15), my brother Shabir (13), my brother Ahmad (11) and I. We arived in Germany with three smugglers in a big white car.
They have separated us from my father when we were sick and only told us : “Khafa Sho – Shut up”. When we were hungry or thirsty we were not allowed to eat anything or drink,so that we would avoid having to go to the bathroom. No one could find us . On the way, my little brother was constantly crying.
In Berlin they threw us out of the car. I do not know where that was. There was plenty of water, lots of trees. They said: “Get out of the car, quickly.” They gave us a small piece of paper. It was an address, all written in English: Turmstr 21- Danmark.
We did not know that we are in Berlin. They had told us that we were in Denmark and the given address is just a walking distance away. Then they drove away.
It was hot. I was hungry. My mother was sick, she had a headache and pain in her side. Muhammad had a headache and vomited. Shabir and Ahmad had even forgotten that they wanted to eat and drink. For three days we had to survive on water and cookies, it was not enough.
So there we were, standing alone in the middle of an unknown street. Everything seemed to be brand new and so different. Girls and women without headscarves, wearing short clothes . Nobody was bothered about things, especially women.I have only seen things like that in a cinema before. I thought to myself , that if women in Afghanistan were dressed like that, men would not only stare at them but would even try to kill them.
Ahmad saw a very nice, top floor apartment and asked: “Mom, how is it possible to build such tall houses?” But my mother did not respond.
Every passerby was looking at us strangely. We did not understand why we were attracting so much attention. Then we passed a large window in which we could finally see our reflection.Black dresses, beige pants, headscarves and on the top of that not showered for a pretty long time.
We were walking extremely slowly. After every two or three meters, we had to take a break because my mother had to sit down. We could not find the address on the note. We asked everyone we possibly could. But once they read “Denmark” we didn’t hear anything more than laugh. My mother started feeling worse and worse.
Finally, we approached a very nice woman and three men who understood us and brought us to the address.
The Landesamt of Gesundheit und Soziales is situated on Turmstraße 21. At the time, we did not know that. There was a security officer sitting at the entrance. He said: “It’s the weekend, the Lageso is closed” Our four friends were still with us. They found an Afghanistani interpreter who helped us. Then they told us that we are not in Denmark, but in “Berlin, Germany”. As soon as my mother heard this, she has collapsed.
A few minutes later an ambulance arrived. Doctors asked us about a health insurance card. We had none. They said that they can not take my mother with them. They gave her an injection and left.
The police arrived. We were afraid. Ahmad was crying and then he said: “We have done nothing wrong.” The police were very friendly and said that they do not want to put us in jail, but organize a place where we can sleep. This has not only reassured us but also my mother started feeling better.
After arriving at the police station, we had to wait in a hallway along with three other boys. You could find there couple of chairs. I believe that one boy was Afghan and the other two were Arab. We waited a long time.
An Iranian interpreter came at 9 pm and helped us to fill out the forms. The boy, who has been waiting with us, did not receive any help. I tried to help him translating the forms because he could not speak any Persian.
The police brought us Arabic food from a mosque: rice, soup, yogurt, bread and dates. While we were eating, my mother started feeling worse again. She had problems with breathing. We had a difficult journey and a very bad day, but when my mother lied on the floor, those were the hardest moments.
My brothers and me started crying. As the oldest, I had to look after my brothers and comfort them. A policeman then called for an ambulance. The emergency doctor said that my mother needs to be hospitalized immediately. We wanted to go with her, but were not allowed.
Muhammad, Shabir and I have understood this but Ahmad not – he is still so small. He started crying loudly and didn’t want to let her go. It was so difficult to stop him.
A terrible storm raged outside . You could hear thunder storms, heavy rain and intense lightning. Four of us didn’t cry alone. The sky was screaming with. When we went back into the hallway of the police station we were soaked from head to toe.
My brother Muhammad still had a headache because of sleeping on the floor, using my mother shoes as a cushion. Ahmad slept on chairs with tears in his eyes. Shabir, as always, was withdrawn. I had my brother’s head on my lap, sleeping just for a very short time.
Shabir and me were thirsty. We went to an officer and asked for water. We found a woman who said: “Go to the left there’s a toilet and a washbasin. You can drink water there.” Water was yellow and chlorinated. We blocked our noses and drank it. After that someone came to take our fingerprints.
There were massive doors. Behind the doors were rooms with bars on the windows, only because I watched a lot of movies before, I knew that was a prison. There was also a long corridor. We had to go to the end. Honestly, from that point on, I was frightened.
A thought crossed my mind : If the police here is the same as in Afghanistan, then I’m alone. I can not do anything. Only men were there, not even one woman. I was so scared , my whole body was shaking. My hands were sweaty. When the police saw me being extremely afraid, they brought me water and tried to tell me in English that there is nothing to be scared of. They were really nice, took my fingerprints and that was it. Since then I realised that the police in Germany is nothing like the police in Afghanistan.
At five o’clock we were finally in a hotel. It was a big building. Only teenagers were there. It seemed extremely odd to me not seeing anyone with their parents. Later I understood that we were in a house that was designated only for children without parents. There again we had to fill out forms, they took photos and we received tickets. All that was happening till 10 am.I was already awake more than 24 h.
Only then they understood that our parents were not dead, but just were not with us. They wanted to put Muhammad and me in a place for children over 14 years and our two little brother in another. As we did not want them to separate us from Ahmad, we were allowed to go all together to another place. It was almost two o’clock in the afternoon next day, when we finally had a place to sleep.