Refugee Stories

The following stories are from 3 young Iraqi women who participate in our mother/child classroom.


Simah is a young Iraqi woman in her early twenties. In 2016 she fled together with her brother the war in their home country. They were on the run for over a month. They walked for days. Simah is still shocked and traumatized from her experiences. They traveled from Turkey to Greece. When Simah talks about her experiences on a little boat that took them from Turkey to Greece she has tears in her eyes. The journey took four days of which for one day and one night a heavy storm shook the boat and the passengers didn’t know if they would make it through the night. Once they arrived in Germany they felt exhausted but tremendously relieved. Simah says she loves how in Germany everything is safe and quiet. The only drop of bitterness is the family brother and sister have left behind and who they miss so much. Simah wishes to learn German as quickly as possible, find work and build a new life.


Bilkis has been here in Germany for 10 years and has six children. She was married at the age of 15. When asked if that was too early, she replies that it is customary in Iraq to marry at 13 or 14. At that time, her family had fled because of the war and left everything behind. All the money was paid to a “trafficker” to make sure that the whole family would be safe. That’s how they got to Greece by sea.

In the beginning, Bilkis’ children were still small and there was no time left for German lessons. But now that the children are bigger and more independent, she can finally learn German through the childcare offered.

In the meantime, she already understands German quite well, but would like to improve further in order to be better understood when going to the doctor or shopping. At the moment, she cannot imagine returning to Iraq, although she has a great longing for her relatives and the village where she grew up.


Sanaa is a young mother and has four children aged six to 15. She came to Germany in 2016 and previously attended school in Iraq for six years. In the “INTEGRA” project, she is learning German diligently and her pronunciation has also improved a lot. She is happy that her children can attend school normally in Germany and that the whole family can live in safety. She herself does not want to return to Iraq, where chaos reigns.

Sanaa is happy that she is allowed to attend the INTEGRA German course and that her children are also looked after during the German course. Without the childcare, she would not have come to the course. Otherwise, she says, learning German would be even more difficult for her.

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