The Incredible Story Of John: The Life Of A Refugee In Athens
John is 40 years old, but he doesn’t look that old at all. He is from Kinshasa, the capital of Congo, and he left his country in November 2017. His passion is coding, singing and playing piano. John is married and he has two children that are still living in Congo. And do you know what changed the most his life? The coding diploma he got in Social Hackers Academy School. We had the chance to meet him while we were living in Athens and we interviewed him. Are you ready to discover his story, how he managed to leave Kinshasa and arrive in Athens, and how is his life is today?
What pushed you to leave your country?
When I was living in Congo, I was working in the Organization for Human Rights. But, as you may know, even if Congo today proclaims itself as a Democratic Republic, it is far away from being one. It was so hard for me and the other collaborators to work: in fact, the government was blocking us in any possible way. We didn’t have freedom, and I learned that the hard way. That’s the main reason that pushed me to leave my country.
What were you doing in your country?
I was a database administrator. I was first working for the Ministry of Education in Congo. For them, I created a database that was collecting all the information of the universities to see if they were trustworthy or not. I started then to work for the Organization for Human Rights. Here I created a database that proved that human rights were not respected by the government. By showing the truth, I ended up in prison for 2 months with no reasons. We are talking about Congolese prisons. I was in one of the houses built around the prison, where a lot of people are forgotten. My family and my colleagues didn’t know anything about my situation. I was like a missing person. Until the day the guard helped me.
How did you manage to leave your country?
Thanks to the guard, I manage to escape from prison. Then my brother planned everything. I got fake documents and a plane ticket to Turkey. I took the few things I had with me and I got on the plane that would have changed my existence. Once in Turkey, I had to cross the sea to arrive in the small island of Kos. It was the first time I was in the sea, I didn’t know how to swim. I thought I would have died. Police took us and questioned us for hours. They wanted my documents, but I didn’t have them. Situations changed only when my colleagues in Congo sent the police my service card. When the police received it, I was free to stay in Greece. It seemed like a dream to me. I stayed on the island for one week before I was free to stay in Greece, and I was lucky: a lot of refugees don’t manage to get any proof of their situation, and they stay stuck in Greek islands forever. Together with the freedom to move, I’ve got the card that permitted me to live in Greece, food and a credit card with some money on it.
What did you think about Athens when you first arrived?
Well, Greek language! It’s so difficult and different from my mother tongue. I then immediately felt that the color of my skin was a real handicap.
“John, A Student Of Social Hackers Academy”
I think people in Athens are xenophobic, but I can’t blame them: they find themselves such in a difficult situation. After two years in Athens, I have to say that I don’t feel so bad. I’m getting used to this city and, slowly, I’m learning Greek.
How did you discover Social Hackers Academy and why did you decide to attend it?
I discovered Social Hackers Academy through an American organization I attend. One day, a volunteer asked me which are my passions and my skills and I immediately told her I loved coding. Her face lit up: Social Hackers Academy was the perfect place for me. And since the first day I entered in this beautiful family, I fell in love with it.
What Social Hackers Academy's classes gave you? Do you have any clients?
The 6-month course at Social Hackers Academy gave me plenty of competence, I even started to learn a new coding technology and I made a lot of friends both from Greece, Africa and Middle East. A lot of people find a job after attending Social Hackers Academy and I’m still waiting for my opportunity. Since I don’t speak Greek, it’s a little bit more difficult to find a job in Greece, but I stay optimist.
How and where do you see your future in 3-5 years?
I think that there is no good or bad place to be, everything depends on you and your capacities. That’s why I don’t see myself in a particular place, but I just want to improve my knowledge and myself. For me it’s still dangerous to come back in Africa, even if I would love to come back to see my wife and my children. I really hope in a bright future for me and in part, I really have to thank Social Hackers Academy. I’m really grateful to life.