My temporary life

My temporary life

By Nabila Saidi

I just got asylum half a year ago. I got asylum in November 2018 after 13 years in the asylum system. My daughter is born in an asylum center.

It took me a long time before I could believe that I had really gotten residency in Denmark. When I met someone I knew, they would congratulate me. But I couldn’t believe it.

Only when I received my yellow health insurance card and saw the last four digits of my CPR number [Danish social security number]. The CPR number is very important.

Nabila Saidi. Photo: Britta My Thomsen

Nabila Saidi. Photo: Britta My Thomsen

It meant that I could get into my dream study to become a social and healthcare helper.

The reason why I chose that study is that I once helped a friend who’s a social and healthcare helper. She was going to help an elderly woman. My friend had finished her job. She could spend 10 minutes with her, and then she was supposed to continue to her next visit.

I could see that the elderly woman wanted more help. My friend had to leave, because she had been told only to spend 10 minutes there. I felt sorry for the woman. After 13 years in the asylum system, I know the feeling of needing help – and of not getting it.

I thought that, if it were me, I would have stayed with her to help her. Since that day, I’ve thought about doing an internship in a nursing home. But I couldn’t do it, because I didn’t have residency in Denmark.

The first thing I did when I got my residency was to talk to the job center about finding an internship in a nursing home so that I could help the elderly and weak who need help. I started my internship in a nursing home to learn about treating and helping the elderly, and then I decided to start on the social and healthcare helper education in August.

But I started the education already in May in order to get out of the integration program.

I was in the integration program and received integration benefits for five months. I started an internship, and didn’t go to language class because I already took 9th and 10th class diplomas while I was in the asylum system.

I decided to get out of the integration program during Easter. My daughter had vacation from school, and I had asked the job center to get some days off as well to spend with my daughter. But they declined, even though the nursing home wanted to give me the days off.

The reason is that I was on integration benefits. You’re not allowed to take time off or take a holiday when you’re in the integration program. I tried to tell them that my daughter has a hard time being alone. After a long struggle, I was allowed to take the days off. But it was a tough struggle.

So I decided to start my education in May instead of waiting until August, so I could get out of the integration program as quickly as possible. Now I receive students’ benefits and work part-time as a substitute at the nursing home instead of receiving any integration benefits.

My dream education takes three and a half years to finish. I only have temporary residency for one year. I’m not sure if I’ll be allowed to extend it. But I hope I will. I hope I can finish my education, find a full-time job, and give my daughter a good life. Some people say that I waste my time taking an education, because I might not be allowed to stay long enough to finish it. And education does not count towards the criteria for permanent residency, so many refugees choose to work instead.

But my daughter worries a lot about being deported. By investing in my education, I can help her dare to believe in a future in Denmark. And it’s good for me to take my dream education. When I was living in an asylum center and did my 9th and 10th degree diplomas, people also told me that it was senseless. I didn’t know if I would ever get residency and be able to use of a Danish exam. But it was good for me to have something to do and stay active.

Now I want to finish my education and build a life in Denmark. I have a job as a substitute in a nursing home. I’m proud, and I hope for a good and safe life.

As part of a collaboration between Trampoline House, ActionAid Denmark and DFUNK – Danish Refugee Council Youth, Nabila told this story to a live audience at the People’s Meeting (Folkemødet) in June 2019.

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