I left Algeria six years ago. I first seeked asylum in Slovenia. After nine months in the asylum centre I got my work permit and started looking for a job immidiately. Soon I got a job in one of the restaurants in Ljubljana. Those were the happiest days of my life. For the first time I felt equal to others. This is something I could never experience in my own country which is very class-divided and I come from a poor family. In this restaurant I worked together with others and received equal pay as them. One time one of the coworkers had racist comments, I was sad and didn’t come to work the following day because I assumed he just said out loud what everyone was thinking. My boss came to look for me in the asylum centre the next day and told me he fired the racist person because he would not tolerate any racism and that I should come back since I was one of his best workers. I was really happy to be able to continue to work. It meant the world to me to be respected, to have my own money, to be able to buy cigarettes, to be able to buy clothes, to feel like a person. Every day after work I went to Spar and bought cigarettes and beer, drank it in the park and then went back to rest in my room, happy.
One day two officials who work in the asylum centre came to see me. I did not like them, they did not like me. They told me I got the last negative and that I should flee otherwise I will be deported. I got scared and left Slovenia the same night. I was on the road again, at the beginning again. I seeked asylum in Austria then Germany and Switzerland, they do not like Arabs anywhere, I felt bad in all these places, I was restless. When Swiss police told me I was being deported to Slovenia, I was relieved. I was looking forward to coming back because Slovenia is my favourite country in the world.
And so I did, I returned to Ljubljana where my attorney told me that the information I got from those asylum centre officials was false. I did not recieve my last negative and there was no threat of me being deported. But because I had already left, my asylum procedure was interrupted and this is why I am where I am now. Without a work permit, without any chance to get asylum, in the process of being deported. I almost cried with rage. If those people didn’t lie to me, I would still be working, living a normal life. Instead I was homeless without any hope to get residence permit in Slovenia.
I had to find my way around on the street, live in a different way. Mafia quickly finds out who is hungry and desperate. So I started dealing pot. Since I don’t have much luck in life, the police caught me very soon with a couple of grams of marihuana and locked me in. I got two years of prison on parole and a four year deportation warrant. If I had my documents in order, I would get a small financial fine for the same crime but as an undocumented migrant each offense comes with a high price. Luckily the court later dismissed the deportation warrant. But I was too afraid to deal drugs and was hungry a lot of the time, except when I got some food from my friends.
Soon after that I got locked in in Postojna’s Immigration detention Centre. I was there for few months. The police were nice to me there, they gave me coffee and cigarettes, the social worker was good to me also. But I couln’t sleep at night because one of the inspectors kept threatening me with deportation. I had to take sleeping pills to even calm down in the evening. I could take it all, even stay at the detention centre, as long as I did not get deported. They do not understand from what I had ran away from, how it is to live in poverty in a country like the one I am from. What kind of exploitation and humiliation I was subjected to. All I want is to live here and work here.
When corona hit I was released from Postojna. On the one hand I was happy to be free, on the other I was back on the street during quarantine when I had no warm place to stay if only for a short time. Luckily my friends from Slovenia helped me and found me a place to stay and provided food. One night I was attacked and injured heavily so I had to spend several weeks in the hospital where they were fighting for my life. Now I am better. But it is still hard. I quit smoking cigarettes because I cannot afford them anymore. Sometimes someone offers me one and I smoke it. Often I get overwhelmed by dark thoughts I cannot run away from. Only sometimes when I sit by the river, looking at the water, dam and birds, I forget about my worries, if only for a short time. I do not want to go back but at the same time cannot stay here. Although I would like to. I dream about having my own room, a job, to live a decent life. Like the one I lived for a couple of months while working at that restaurant.