THE FREE WORD

THE FREE WORD

VRYHEID

LIBERTAD

KGOLOLOSEGO

SVOBODA

 

I WANT TO THANK DESTINY EVERYDAY

THAT IT HAS SENT ME THROUGH DIFFERENT COUNTRIES AND DIFFERENT SEAS

 

I SIT HERE IN A COUNTRY LIBERATED BY A WOMAN I WISH I COULD SEE

HER FREE WORD SOMEHOW FREES ME

HER FREEDOM SETS ME FREE

FREE TO BELIEVE ALL THAT I FEEL

FREE TO SEE THE BEAUTY OF WHAT MAY BE

FREE TO SMELL THE SUMMER RAIN

FREE TO LISTEN TO THE SOUNDS OF VRYHEID THAT ECHOES WITHIN THE CHARACTER IS BEAUTY WALLS

FREE TO REMEMBER ALL THE PEOPLE THAT HAVE BEEN FREED

FREE, FREE

AM I FREE OR AM I DUMB?

DUMB TO BELIEVE THAT I AM FREE OR FREE TO BE DUMB TO BELIEVE THAT I AM FREE?

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THE FIRST MEMOIR OF A YOUNG GIRL FROM WESTBURY ON HER FIRST TRIP TO EUROPE: STORYTELLING

ANNONYMOUS

33

WRITER

GERMANY

I WAS A VERY SILENT, SHY CHILD GROWING UP. I ALWAYS NEEDED FRIENDS AROUND ME. AFTER 7TH GRADE, BAUER, BELIEVED IN ME. I WAS AT THE LOWEST CLASS OF SCHOOL AND SHE, BAUER, RECOGNIZED THE FACT THAT I BELONGED IN A BETTER SCHOOL. SHE SUGGESTED THAT I TRANSFER TO ANOTHER SCHOOL, SO WITH MY PARENTS CONSENT, I CHANGED SCHOOLS. MY MARKS IMPROVED, IMMEDIATELY.

 

MY SISTER WAS MY MOM GROWING UP, SHE WAS MY ROLE MODEL. I COULD SPEAK TO HER ABOUT ANYTHING. MY DAD TAUGHT ME HOW TO BE INDEPENDENT.I WAS WEIRD. I WAS THE BLACK SHEEP OF MY FAMILY. MY PARENTS USE TO UNPLUG ALL THE APPLIANCES AT NIGHT BECAUSE OF THE PORN MOVIES THAT PLAYED, I DIDN’T KNOW THAT. THE CURIOSITY WITHIN ME, WANTED, NEEDED TO KNOW WHAT WAS SO HIDDEN. WHY WASN’T I ALLOWED TO WATCH TV AT NIGHT? MY MOM FOUND OUT ABOUT THE PORN MOVIES THAT I HAD BEEN WATCHING.SHE HIT ME SO BAD BUT I DECIDED TO FIGHT BACK. I LEARNED THAT THIS WASN’T ME.

 

AT THE AGE OF EIGHT, MY UNCLE TOUCHED ME. HE TRIED TO KISS ME. I TOLD MY SISTER, MY SISTER TOLD MY DAD AND WE LEFT MY COUNTRY OF ORIGIN FOR FIVE YEARS.I DECIDED TO CHANGE. I WISH THAT I COULD BE AS BRAVE AS I WAS WHEN I WAS A CHILD. I WAS FEARLESS. MY PARENTS ADMIRED THIS ABOUT ME.

2017-08-04 11.31.43

THE FIRST MEMOIR OF A YOUNG GIRL FROM WESTBURY ON HER FIRST TRIP TO EUROPE: STORYTELLING

CARRINA

19

STUDENT

GERMANY

GROWING UP WITH PARENTS WHO COULD NOT TAKE CARE OF YOU WAS NOT ALWAYS EASY BUT WE WERE GROWING. I WAS BORN IN JULY 1998 IN HAMBURG, GERMANY. I WAS MY MOTHER’S 5TH CHILD. MY MOTHER IS MENTALLY ILL. SHE OFTEN LEFT ME ALONE OR WITH HER FRIENDS WHO WERE MOSTLY MALES. MY MOTHER DIDN’T SPEAK MUCH. SHE GAVE US FOOD WHENEVER WE WERE LOUD. SO WE ALL GOT FAT AND NO-ONE TALKED TO US. I NEVER MET MY FATHER TILL THE AGE OF FOUR, MY PARENTS GOT DIVORCED AS I WAS BORN.

PEOPLE TOLD ME THAT I STARED AT LAMPS BECAUSE THEY GAVE ME MORE LOVE THAN PEOPLE COULD. THE GOOD THING WAS THAT I WAS IN A DAY CARE CENTRE, WHERE I COULD PLAY WITH OTHER KIDS AND THEY TALKED TO ME.

I LIVED WITH MY MOTHER FOR TWO AND A HALF YEARS UNTIL I GOT A PLACE IN A FOSTER FAMILY. TWO OF MY SIBLINGS GOT PLAC ED THERE TOO. THIS IS WHERE MY NEW LIFE STARTED. I HAD A LOT OF CHILDREN TO PALY WITH. MY NEW MOMMY CUDDLED ME. I WAS THE YOUNGEST, SO EVERYONE PLAYED WITH ME. FOR THE FIRST TIME IN MY LIFE, I HAD A NORMAL LIFE.

I WAS REALLY SHY WHEN I WAS IN KINDERGARTEN. I USE TO HIDE MYSELF UNDER MY FOSTER MOM’S PULLOVER. EVERYONE THOUGHT THAT SHE WAS MY REAL MOTHER AND THAT I WAS HER REAL CHILD.

SCHOOL WAS DIFFICULT FOR ME BECAUSE I COULDN’T CONCENTRATE. I HAD NO FRIENDS AND AS I REMEMBER, NOW, I REMEMBER THAT I WAS KINDA DEPRESSIVE. WHEN I WAS IN MY 3RD CLASS, I GOT BULLIED BECAUSE I WAS TALLER THAN THE OTHERS, I CRIED A LOT OF TIMES. ON THE OTHER SIDE, I HAD FREE TIME ACTIVITIES LIKE SINGING IN THE CHOIR, GYMNASTICS, READING AND THAT’S WHERE I MADE FRIENDS.

I MET WITH MY MOM FOR VISITATIONS, WE DONE SOME THINGS TOGETHER LIKE GOING TO THE CINEMA OR A CAFÉ BUT SHE WAS NEVER LIKE A MOTHER, I THINK THAT SHE IS MORE LIKE AN AUNT. ALL IN ALL I COULD SAY THAT MY CHILDHOOD WAS NOT EASY BUT I AM HAPPY WHERE I AM RIGHT NOW.       CARINNA BY NTM

THE FIRST MEMOIR OF A YOUNG GIRL FROM WESTBURY ON HER FIRST TRIP TO EUROPE: STORYTELLING

SIPHO

25

WRITER

SOUTH AFRICA

 

I AM THE PRODUCT OF A TEENAGE PREGNANT MOM AND A DAD JAILED FOR SOMETHING I DON’T KNOW.  I MOVED TO LIMPOPO AT THE AGE OF FIVE. I ONLY KNEW HOW TO SPEAK ENGLISH, SO I HAD TO LEARN HOW TO SPEAK PEDI. I LIVED WITH 12 PEOPLE, IN ONE HOUSE. GRAN MA, GRAN PA AND MY COUSINS. THE FOOD IN LIMPOPO WAS DIFFERENT THAN THE FOOD IN JOBURG. MANY DAYS WE SLEPT ON THE FLOOR.

 

AS SOON AS I COMPLETED GRADE 7, I WENT TO JOBURG. THIS WAS A HUGE ADJUSTMENT FOR ME. I ENROLLED AT A SCHOOL. I WILL NEVER FORGET WHAT I WORE- I WORE BLACK PANTS WITH A LITTLE WHITE GRAFFITIED SHIRT. I BOUGHT A TIE FROM THE SCHOOL’S OFFICE AND I ATTENDED MY FIRST CLASS.  I HAD MY FIRST RACIAL SPLASH, A KID SPAT IN MY FACE AND MY MOM WAS LIKE, THIS HAPPENS. SCHOOL WAS COMPLICATED, I DIDN’T GIVE A SHIT. I TOOK PUNCHES AS THEY CAME BUT I NEVER CRIED. I HATED CRYING BECAUSE IT MADE ME FEEL WEAK. I FELT ALONE. THE ONLY COMFORT I HAD WAS WITH THE TV, THE TV WAS MY FRIEND.

 

SIPHO BY NATASHA HEIN

THE FIRST MEMOIR OF A YOUNG GIRL FROM WESTBURY ON HER FIRST TRIP TO EUROPE: STORYTELLING

NAYELY

28

CHOREOGRAPHER

MEXICO

ONE OF MY FIRST MEMORIES AS A CHILD INVOLVES MY TITA (A COMMON MEXICAN WORD FOR GRANDMOTHER)

I REMEMBER SITTING ON TITA’S TABLE IN THE KITCHEN, MY FAVORITE PLACE IN THE WHOLE WIDE WORLD, SURROUNDED BY SENSATIONAL AROMAS, FRUITS AND VEGETABLES.

AT THE AGE OF 8, TITA GAVE ME THE MOST INCREDIBLE GIFT THAT AN EIGHT-YEAR OLD GIRL COULD HAVE, SHE GAVE ME A CHICKEN, WHO I NAMED BIBI. TITA THOUGHT ME HOW TO FEED BIBI. I SPENT MOST OF MY TIME WITH BIBI. EVERY DAY, AFTER SCHOOL, I USE TO FEED BIBI, WATCH BIBI AND PLAY WITH BIBI. I PLAYED WITH BIBI’S SOFT FEATHERS TILL BIBI FELL ASLEEP.

ONE DAY, STRAIGHT AFTER SCHOOL, I WENT INTO THE BACKYARD TO LOOK FOR BIBI, I COULDNN’T FIND HIM, SO I LOOKED IN THE HOUSE BUT I STILL COULDN’T FIND HIM. I MADE MY WAY THROUGH TO TITA AND ASKED TITA IF SHE HAD SEEN BIBI BUT SHE DIDN’T ANSWER MY QUESTION. INSTEAD OF ANSWERING MY QUESTION, SHE TOLD ME HOW PEOPLE TAKE CARE OF COWS, PIGS AND CHICKENS. SHE THEN WENT ON TO SAY THAT PEOPLE CAN EAT COWS, PIGS AND CHICKENS, AS A NORMAL, DAILY ACTIVITY IN LITTLE TOWNS OR FARMS.

I WAS IN TOTAL SHOCK. HOW COULD TITA HAVE DONE THIS TO BIBI? I REFUSED TO BELIEVE ALL THAT TITA SAID. THIS WAS IMPOSSIBLE!

TWO WEEKS AFTER BIBI’S MISSING REPORT, WE HAD A FAMILY MEETING IN A LITTLE TOWN NEAR GUADALAJARA. WE WERE IN OUR OLD, BIG HOUSE, WHICH HAD A BIG BACKYARD FILLED WITH CHICKENS AND HENS. EVERYONE WAS CHATTING AND LAUGHING, AS A FAMILY OFTEN DOES, OUT OF NOWHERE, TITA CAME AND ANNOUNCED “TIME FOR LUNCH… WE ARE HAVING CHICKEN SOUP”.

NAYELY BY NTM

THE FIRST MEMOIR OF A YOUNG GIRL FROM WESTBURY ON HER FIRST TRIP TO EUROPE: STORYTELLING

WAQAR

17 AND A HALF

STUDENT

PAKISTAN

I AM FROM PAKISTAN, RESIDING IN GERMANY FOR ONE AND A HALF YEARS. I CAN SAY THAT MY CHILDHOOD INVOLVED MOVING FROM ONE PLACE TO ANOTHER. IT WAS ALWAYS HOT AND THE WATER WAS NEVER ENOUGH. MY SOURCE OF FOOD WAS HUNTING BIRDS AND RABBITS WHICH I KILLED WITH A WEAPON THAT I MADE OF WOOD AND STONE. MY OTHER OPTION WAS EATING PLANTS AND MUSHROOMS. I HAD A DAD, MOM AND TWO BROTHERS AGED 10 AND 8. I WAS FORCED TO LEAVE PAKISTAN AT THE AGE OF 15 BECAUSE OF TERRORISM. I HAD LOST MY FAMILY IN A BOMBING AND THERE WAS NOTHING LEFT FOR ME IN PAKISTAN. I HAD JEWELLERY GIVEN TO ME BY MY MOM WHO RECEIVED THE JEWELLERY FROM MY DAD ON THEIR WEDDING DAY.

ON JULY 2015, I TOOK THE JEWELLERY AND MONEY THAT I HAD SAVED UP AND LEFT TO EUROPE, IN SEARCH OF A BETTER LIFE. I STARTED MY JOURNEY FROM PAKISTAN TO IRAN. I GOT CAUGHT AND I WAS IMPRISONED FOR 22 DAYS. I DIDN’T OWN A PASSPORT, SO I WAS TAKEN BACK TO PAKISTAN. THAT DIDN’T STOP ME. I ONCE AGAIN, MADE MY WAY FROM PAKISTAN TO IRAN, THIS TIME SUCCESSFULLY. LUCKILY FOR ME,THERE WAS NO MILITARY AT THE BORDER. I ENTERED TURKEY WITHOUT ANY MONEY.

I WAS FREE.

I MET FRIENDS. FOR ONE WEEK, WE TRAVELED TO ISTANBUL AND WE WERE FACED WITH TWO CHOICES-ENTER EUROPE BY FOOT OR BY WATER. WE DECIDED TO WALK. AFTER TRAVELING FOR ONE MONTH THROUGH A FOREST, WE MET TROUBLE BUT IT WAS INTERESTING AND ADVENTUROUS. WE GOT CAUGHT IN BULGARIA AND WE WERE LEFT IN SLOFIA. THERE, WE RESTED DUE TO INJURIES. WE FINALLY GATHERED ENOUGH STRENGTH TO CONTINUE. I REMEMBER THAT IT WAS -20 DEGREES, COLDEST. MY PHONE BATTERY DIED. WE HAD USED IT FOR NAVIGATION PURPOSES. WE GOT LOST, IN A SNOW DESERT, BUT WE GREW COURAGE FROM ONE ANOTHER. THE SUN WAS ANGLED AT 45 DEGREES , THE DAY WAS GONE BY 70 PERCENT.. WHEN THE SUN FINALLY SET, WE CLIMBED  AS HIGH AS WE COULD AND WE SAW A VILLAGE. WE ENTERED AND SOMEONE ALERTED THE POLICE. THE SERBIAN POLICE TOOK US TO AUSTRIA WITH OUR FINGER PRINTS. THEN TO GERMANY. I WOKE UP IN A HOSPITAL. I WAS 54 KILOGRAMS, VERY WEAK, MY EYES WERE LIKE THAT OF A SKELETON. I REMAINED IN HOSPITAL FOR ONE WEEK. I HAVE NEVER SEEN MY FRIENDS EVER SINCE. I JOINED SCHOOL. MY FIRST CLASSES WERE IN GERMAN. AFTER FOUR MONTHS, I JOINED NORMAL CLASSES. I MET A TEACHER, ROSY, AT THE REFUGEE CAMP. I WAS ONE OF HER BEST STUDENTS. SHE TOOK ME TO STAY WITH HER. SHE’S BEEN WORKING TO GET ME TO THE STANDARD OF OTHER GERMAN STUDENTS. IF I GET GOOD MARKS, I WILL APPLY TO BECOME A BANKER.

2017-08-08 10.38.12

THE FIRST MEMOIR OF A YOUNG GIRL FROM WESTBURY ON HER FIRST TRIP TO EUROPE: STORYTELLING

KATHARINA

16

STUDENT IN GRADE 11

RUSSIA

I AM ORIGINALLY FROM RUSSIA. MY PARENTS CAME HERE BECAUSE LIFE IN RUSSIA WAS VERY DIFFICULT. MY PARENTS MARRIED YOUNG, MY DAD WAS 19 AND MY MOM WAS 18. MY MOM WAS A SOCIAL WORKER AND MY DAD WORKED AT A WAREHOUSE, WHERE HE TRANSPORTED GOODS FROM ONE PLACE TO ANOTHER. WHEN I WAS NINE MONTHS OLD, MY GRANDPARENTS FOLLOWED US TO GERMANY. I SPENT 99 PERCENT OF MY CHILDHOOD WITH MY FAMILY.THIS LEAD TO ME NOT SPEAKING GERMAN AT ALL. WE USE TO GO ON FAMILY VACATIONS AT THE SEASIDE. THERE WAS MANY SAND HOLES AND I LOVED CLIMBING IN AND OUT OF IT. I WAS HOME SCHOOLED BY MY PARENTS TILL I WAS FOUR YEARS OLD. I THEN ENTERED KINDERGARTEN BUT IT WAS BAD. I GOT A LUNG INFECTION AND I DIDN’T GO BACK TO KINDERGARTEN. I TURNED FIVE AND I ENTERED PREPARATION GRADE. IT WAS DIFFICULT FOR ME TO MAKE FRIENDS. I KNEW ONE RUSSIAN GIRL, WE WERE BORN ON THE SAME DAY AT THE SAME HOSPITAL. WE WERE INSEPERABLE TILL THE AGE OF 12 BUT WE WERE DIFFERENT FROM EACHOTHER BECAUSE WE HAD NO SIMILARITIES.

IT WAS IMPORTANT FOR ME TO BE LIKED. I WAS BULLIED UNTIL I WAS IN 9TH GRADE. I REPORTED IT, THEY PROMIDED, THE TEACHERS AND THE PRINCIPAL, TO DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT BUT THEY DIDN’T. I CHANGED SCHOOLS SO MANY TIMES THAT PEOPLE DIDN’T REALLY KNOW ME. I CAME TO THE INTERCOOL TOUR TO BE HONEST WITH MYSELF. THIS TRIP IS A TURNING POINT FOR ME.

I LOVE READING. WHEN I WAS A CHILD, I READ UP TO SIX HOURS A DAY.

LIFE ISN’T DIFFICULT BUT MY THOUGHTS ARE. I WANT TO REMOVE TOXIC PEOPLE FROM MY LIFE. I NEED TO MAKE BIG CHANGERS. I NEED TO OPEN UP AND BE WHO I AM. I WANT TO BE MYSELF.KATHARINA BY NTM