Mirror, mirror
on the wall...
Who belongs
here of us all?

This project attempts to explain the reasons for refugees fleeing their home countries and to show their legal situation while doing so in years 2015-2020. It tells a story about people and their struggle to find a new home in Germany. Above all, however it invites you to engage in a dialogue with ‘the other’, with society and with yourself.

Fateh was born in Iran where he studied Computer Science at the university in Bukan. His dream was to work for a big IT company like Google or Microsoft or to have his own company. During his studies, he became involved with the Kurdistan Democratic Party. His political activities made Iran an unsafe place for him to live, and so he fled.

He came to Germany in 2016 and was granted refugee status in Germany in 2019 after a long, bureaucratic fight. Having completed an apprenticeship with the adidas IT team, he followed his dreams and set up his own company which designs and develops websites, such as the one you are just looking at. To see Fateh’s work visit his website at www.kabarza.com

“Every day I have tried to learn
something new and to look to the
future. That’s what saved me.”

Tareq was born in Hama, Syria. He comes from the desert. Before he came to Germany, Tareq was a teacher. Now he lives in Nuremberg but despite having a university degree and work experience, he is not allowed to teach at Bavarian schools. Hence, he is now studying secondary school education again –this time with a focus on History, German and Art. Tareq will teach again soon, here in Germany: You can take the teacher out of the school but you can’t take the school out of the teacher, especially if they, like Tareq, are ones"with head, hand and heart".  

“The most difficult part of fleeing is
that you take your home country with
you, no matter where you go.”

Svitlana was born in Charzysk, Ukraine, which is close to Donetsk. In Donetsk she studied Business Mathematics and worked in a bank. Donetsk, she explains, was once a city full of roses. Today the city is more like a thorn in the eyes of western politicians, who do not want to see the war in the Ukraine as such.

After waiting five years to be granted the right of asylum and fighting for refugee recognition in vain, Svitlana is starting her career from scratch, here in Germany, with an apprenticeship as tax counsellor. However, Svitlana isn’t complaining about this step (backwards). She knows she is moving forward and stays strong.  

“In the Ukraine we say:
If you want to hide something, put it
where everybody can see it. There is
a war on the doorstep of the European
Union and nobody wants to see it. And
nobody wants to see us, either.”

Mehmet is one of thousands of public servants who lost their jobs per Turkish president Erdogan’s emergency decree after the attempted coup in 2016. Prior he had taught mathematics at a high school. At first, he secretly continued to work at a private school while attempting legal steps to get his job back. But after his brothers-in-law were taken to prison and police threatened to incarcerate him, too, he sold everything he owned and left with his family for Germany.

In September 2021, Mehmet started an apprenticeship at adidas. Despite missing his old life, he wants to stay in Germany so that his children can grow up in a democracy that honors human rights.

“War and genocide begin where
humanity ends.”

Mubarak, born in Gunagado, Ethiopia, had been such a good pupil he received a full scholarship to study. Until the beginning of the semester, he worked in his brother’s grocery store in the morning, and played football in the afternoon. All of this changed when – unbeknownst to his brother – Somalian separatists hid weapons in a shipment of dates. When the police found the weapons, it was his death sentence. Mubarak had to flee without saying goodbye, or he would have been arrested, too. The football pitch was the last place he saw from his village.

Having arrived in Germany in 2014, Mubarak’s asylum procedure is still pending. In the meantime, he has started applying for IT apprenticeships.

“I only knew how important home
was to me once i had to move
far away from it.”

Sadegh knows Afghanistan primarily from his parents’ stories. He was born in Iran, where his family had fled to from the Taliban. There, he learned to be a tailor. He had actually always wanted to be a teacher but because of his ethnic background as an Afghan in Iran it was out of the question. Without his family by his side, he was deported to Afghanistan in 2013. It was then that he saw his parents’ country for the first time. However, it would not become home to him.  

Since coming to Germany in 2015, he has been building a new life for himself here. He is currently training to become a nurse and working towards getting his driver’s license. He dreams of one day reuniting with his family.

“In Iran they used to say to me: you are
Afghan. In Afghanistan it was the
other way round: you are Iranian,
they said. In Germany they say: you
are a refugee. And I say: I am Sadegh.”

Banan was born in Baghdad, Iraq. When she was 19, she married Aws and moved to Tikrit, where she studied Mathematics and later worked as a teacher. In 2011 she and her husband bought their dream house on the idyllic shore of Tigris. They waited two years until they could finally move in. They had only lived there for one year when their home was destroyed by bombs of ISIS. 

In July of 2014, they left Tikrit and fled to Germany. Today they live in Nuremberg. In their apartment, Banan was able to restore a piece of the life they once shared on the banks of Tigris.

“Germany is a free country, but
in order to get a job I have to
give up my headscarf.”

Andrii was born in the Ukraine’s Yenakiyeve. In Donetsk he was an entrepreneur and father. When it became clear that the Ukraine was on the cusp of war, he moved his family to a more secure place, under the protection of NATO, as he says. He fought against the Russian occupation of his beloved home for one more year and then followed his family to Germany.

Here, he is not recognised as a refugee, just like the war in the Ukraine has not been recognised as such. Andrii hasn’t given up though. He is continuing to fight for his right to remain in Germany, for the security of his family and for the Ukraine. He uses every opportunity to give the voiceless a voice.

“Although I love my country I had to
give up fighting for the Ukraine.
In Germany, where I now live, you
call it a conflict. But when I left
Donetsk, the stench of dead bodies
still permeated the air.”

Nour was born in Damascus, Syria. According to tradition, as the oldest grandchild he was named after his grandfather and was to take on his role in the community. However, Nour wanted to go his own way in life. Soon not only the tradition but also the Assad regime made demands on him: Nour was supposed to join the army and go to war.

In 2015 he fled to Germany where he instantly got involved with diverse social projects for children and youths, and organized cooking and dancing courses. Nour is convinced that music and good food is the fastest and the best way to bring different cultures together.

In a few months time, Nour will graduate from Pedagogy.

“We are in Germany now. Finally. We
made it. And there is still  a long way
to go but I am sure: We can
do this, too.”

Aws was born in Tikrit, Iraq. His father was a police officer and was shot and killed when Aws was a little boy. Because of this he had to quickly learn to take care of himself. While he was still studying, he opened his first boutique and after he graduated, he opened four more. The business was running well up until 2014 when ISIS first occupied the city. It became clear to him that he had to flee. His young son should not have to grow up without a father.

Today, Aws and his family live in Germany and he works as a salesperson in a boutique. One day he would like to run his own fashion business or even make fashion himself.

“In Germany men and women are
equal. My wife can walk by herself
in the city without being afraid.
That makes her stronger and more
self-confident and I like that.”

For Ruba, Damascus was the most beautiful city in the world. She had it all, including her own business, a flower shop. She also organised events and designed cards and gifts. Her company employed up to 50 people. But then the war came and took it all away.

After an exhausting and dangerous journey, Ruba found herself in Gößweinstein in 2016. She knew she had to build her life from the beginning. So, she moved to Erlangen to attend German courses and started working in a print shop. Later on she got an internship at adidas and soon afterwards a contract to work there as the general manager’s assistant. Of course, this is only until she will be a famous shoe designer.

“I am a refugee. I am Syrian. I am a
woman. I am here. And one day I will
be a famous designer –
a shoe designer.”

Nisreen was born in Damascus, Syria. She studied English Literature and later worked as an English teacher. When the school where she taught was bombed, she left Syria in August 2015 and arrived in Germany 27 days later.

First, she gathered some practical experience through internships at adidas and Siemens. In October 2020, she started studying the international Master's degree in Human Rights at FAU. Her goal is to work in an international NGO afterwards. She would like to make sure that all children can learn in peace without fearing for their lives.

“To be a bridge between worlds that
are so different from one another
Requires patience, endless courage
and above all: love.”

Emin was born in Baku, Azerbaijan. Already as a little boy, he was passionate about music. In fact, he only needed to listen to a song once before being able to play it on the piano. Despite being a passionate musician, Emin decided for a secure profession after his military service due to uncertain times. He studied economics and went to work at a bank. However, he wasn’t safe there for long and finally fled to Germany.

After five years, his application for asylum was declined despite being given an apprenticeship contract. He had to leave. His apprenticeship and employer are still waiting for Emin to be back in Nuremberg. Just like all the people he had gotten close with while in Germany.

“You can’t run away from your
destiny but you can decide
how you walk with it.”

Abiy was born in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. During his psychology studies, he joined the student movement there against Ethiopia’s authoritarian regime at that time. After facing arrest and persecution, he fled as soon as he was released from prison.

He applied for asylum at Frankfurt Airport in 2016. The atrocities he had witnessed in his home country made him want to fight for human rights. Since his arrival in Germany, he has been involved with numerous NGOs providing support for refugees. In winter semester 2020/2021, he started studying for the international Master's degree in Human Rights at FAU in order to put his mission on the professional path.

“They preach to us democracy,
but in the end, they don‘t want
to hear anything about it.”