Ari

There are many, many things in this life you do accidentally and sometimes it comes good and sometimes bad. For me Birmingham is good. I like Birmingham.

I was born in North Iraq in 1973. My father is Kurdish. I came over here round the end of 1997. I was an asylum seeker. At that time Sadam Hussein was in power. I was fleeing from persecution to be honest because my family background has always been on the opposition side of the Iraqi Government. My parents were in prison and my brother was killed.

Anybody that has left their country, I am sure has two books they could write. You cannot say everything about it. The reason I came to this country was because I spoke English. Also I had a degree in literature and I had some knowledge about the UK but it wasn?t a deep knowledge.

When I came here it was a very strange day. I never felt I would be an asylum seeker one day. It?s a strange feeling. If you were going to go to Russia to live there forever without any help off anybody, what would you feel? Not having a passport - it?s not a nice feeling. You claim asylum and you don?t know anybody.

At that time it was taking the Home Office about 2 years to consider your application to stay. They didn?t have an infrastructure for dealing with applicants because they didn?t have many. Only after 1999 they started to work in teams.

In London I saw people, in different communities, who had been there twenty years, and they don?t have any friends whatever. I thought, ?how can they live like that?? Also in order to work, you had to work about 12 hours a day. Now I can do any work. If I lost my job today I?d go and clean. It?s better than staying in bed to be honest. But obviously I couldn?t start the work I wanted to do.

Somebody I knew moved to Birmingham and he said, ?there are a lot of Kurdish people here?. So I just came and then I started to think about interpreting. The pubic services could hardly get an interpreter here. After a couple of months I started as a part time classroom assistant for East Birmingham College. Then from there you go somewhere and live, and work obviously. It just becomes your home.

In 2002 I went to study a masters degree and then I left it because the Iraqi war started. I was watching TV 24 hours to see what was happening. At that time there was the threat that Sadam Hussein would use chemical weapons against either the army or civilians. Lots of people were saying the Kurds would be first target. Somehow I just couldn?t think to be honest.

But then I got a job. I got another job at the end of 2004 at Wolverhampton City Council as a Support Officer. I worked there for nearly a year and I got a job in 2005 at Birmingham City Council and I have been working there since then.

I went back to Iraq after about ten years and it was very strange, everything was changed. My niece and nephew were older and the streets, all the places I was bought up, looked smaller. There are many, many things in this life you do accidentally and sometimes it comes good and sometimes bad. For me Birmingham is good.

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