108 ZINETA & MELISA
At the end of june 2015 Zineta moved with her granddaughter Melisa from room 106 to room 108.
In the night of the 4th to the 5th of october her youngest daughter Adelisa reached Berlin along with her two children. Mother and daughter haven't seen each other for three years . Adelisa is nineteen years old, her son Toni has two years and her daughter Hamscha four months.
Bosnia is my country.
I am here for three years now, two years in this home. This home does me good. Looking at other homes … This one is nice. There are people working here and security people and others. Here you don't get in trouble with other people. In other homes there are lots of problems. The whole day: too much talking, beating, and all of that. But in here no problems. This home is good and I really want to stay here.
Before, I had been in another home, next to Rathaus Steglitz [...]. Social welfare office told me to go to Staakener Strasse. When I got here: no bed, no pillow, no blanket, no sheets … Eight people: me, my daughters, my man, and my grandchildren … Eight people in one little room. And the next days, my daughter and three children in another room and all others in another room … Two rooms for eight people. And then on the third or fourth day, I do not remember, all of us had sheets and pillows and blankets. Everything was given to us. And after two or three weeks a fridge. Then we would wait for a table and chairs. After about one month everything was okay. We had a fridge, a closet, the blankets and pillows, everything. When I got here, there were two blankets and two pillows. Two rooms the next day. Everyone had a bed but no blanket and no pillow. But on the third day everything was okay.
I don't blame you. The people working here at the office, they understand. Once you have a problem, they all want to help, no matter where: at the doctor's, at social welfare office … no matter where.
I learned German only when in Germany. I would learn the whole day.
Why I am here? In my country, in Bosnia, I have no home, no work, this is such a shame. I did not have a dog's chance for me and my family. When you have problems in Bosnia, there is no citizen center (Bürgeramt) to help, no social welfare office, no one. When you call the police they will say, "who cares!" Many, many problems.
I had a house until 2011. Day in and out a group of boys would say, "gypsies, gypsies!" Drinking beer, alcohol, driving cars … I told the police once, they came and looked around, but said, "It's okay. No problem." Other times too, "No problem." This would go for five or six months, I don’t know. And then one day … My house … on fire … It's too bad … I have a picture of my house, but no longer a house.
Then I thought, I need help. But people would say, "no, no money." And I said, "please. All I want is an apartment, a bit of money. My daughter goes to medicine school, the other one goes to elementary school." But they said, "no, no, no." I would think a lot, two or three months. Then I said, I have no money and I must go. Out of Bosnia.
This is Bosnia, Croatia, Slovenia, Austria, Germany.
I am a Roma. Roma in Bosnia … I don't know how to say this … In Bosnia, when I say I am a Roma, then they say, "oh, all Roma are crap!" My daughter, who goes to medicine school never admits she is a Roma. My daughter is afraid that when she says she's a Roma then "Roma, shit, pack off!" When my daughter goes to school, she says she is Muslim. My daughter goes to the Camii (note: mosque) and says, I am Muslim. "Yes, you are Muslim but your mother and father are Roma." You have to say that. If you want a chance of success, if you go to school you must not say that you're Roma. You must say you're a different nationality. Muslim or Serbo Croatian, but Roma … no. In Bosnia, Roma have a house and barracks like this one … mobile homes.
I am here with my man and my granddaughter Melisa. I am her legal guardian. My daughter married another man in Bosnia. With the Roma, in my family, when my children have children and the parents do not live together, when she marries another man, then the children have to stay with grandma and dad. My daughter's husband did not want to come. He says he'd rather stay in Bosnia. No idea. Yes, I am sad that she is not here.
I have another daughter, apart from Melisa's mother. She is here. She lives at a home in Köpenick.
My man Kazim has a temporary residence permit. I have a temporary suspension of deportation. We are not married, my man and I, but we have been together for 28 years. I do not work, sometimes I help with choirs at the home and I do get welfare payments. I clean the kitchen for 88 Euro a month.
Kazim is looking for an apartment, but property management says you need to work and present three bank statements. Kazim is with Jobcenter but I get welfare payments.
What I am wishing for? I don't know …
Everyday I look at what you and your colleagues do. And I am interested in what you do. A lot of residents ask, why is the woman here and what does she do all day long until 7 or 8 at night. I tell them, she has a project and I see everything that is done. This house, the flowers and all other stuff, the garden …
I don't know anything about the other people but that is a good thing. When we are here, we're together and don't think about our problems. Today, I had many, many problems. All of last night and this morning I cried. But when you came into the kitchen, asking me to come along, I said yes. Since we're here I have not thought about my children in Bosnia. That's a good thing.
A lot of people stay in their rooms, thinking all the time. Thinking, thinking, thinking … How is my family and children? How can I go on? When coming back from immigration service, oh boy, what has happened … The temporary suspension of deportation or the police has said you must go home … It's thinking, thinking, thinking. That is no good.
I think a lot of people in here suffer from depression. Only smoking and coffee. Food? "Oh, later!" Only coffee, cigarettes, and thoughts. Many, many people … My man too. But that is no good.
Tuzla is my city. It is a big city. Third biggest after Sarajevo and Banja Luca. Bosnia, Croatia, Serbia, Macedonia, Kosovo and Montenegro have all become independent countries. I don’t like that. When they were still united, you could proceed without a passport. Now, you need a passport. And when travelling to Serbia or Croatia you are in a different country. It was only yesterday that they were all united. I have a lot of friends from Serbia, from Croatia … But now there is a border. In Croatia there is Županja and there is Orašje ... less than a kilometer apart. Now with the border this is extra and this is extra. But united until yesterday: food, drinking, playing, going to school, work. No longer. No idea what this is, it's politics. I don’t like it. Politics is war. People have died. But the bigwigs go on. With their families, all together. Those without money must stay. And due to war the parents are dead. The son or the daughter. That is no good. I know that. My aunt's son is 19. The war … now he is dead. My neighbor has four children. But during war … now they are dead. Not only one neighbor but lots of them. My neighbor who lived next to the old house, the woman and children are alone now. Difficult and no good. It's politics …
Germany is better. There is no help, no social welfare in my country. In Germany they have social welfare. In my country you must be 100% critically ill. Then they help. I went to social welfare office about 100 times and said, "what is 100% ill or my man will die? Please help." 10 or 30 Marks but that is 14 Euro. They tell me to stay for another three months. Six months. Then they'll give me another 15.
I went to school in Bosnia. I have a medical education. I am a nurse. My daughter is a nurse too. Now everything is difficult. Now I am with social welfare, Kazim is with the jobcenter. I said my man is sick, I have to take care of him. They said no, I have to wait, we have to get married and stuff like that. And I have no clue how to proceed.
In Bosnia, Kazim was a machine constructor. But he did not work for long, only for about 3 years.
And I wonder, I have no money at home, I have nothing to eat, and my children are hungry. I must work, even for 3 Euro. But for other people … me 10 Euro. I am a grandma, I must work. Hard work …
The conversation with Zineta has been recorded on april 21th. 2015 and was transcribed by Safaa Moussa.
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