Bader: The Designer

“We have to tell people we are not coming to be tourists. We left our homes, country and family because it is difficult, it is not safe and very bad. No basic livelihood (food, water). And do not forget the hardest decision crossing the Mediterranean, you might die crossing with this boat.”

Traveling from Gaza in Palestine alone, 27 year old Bader left with a mission: to find more opportunities, to thrive and not just try and survive. With family thinking he would not go beyond Turkey, Bader was looking to design the future for a better life. 


When he arrived in Turkey, one of the first things he did was look for a copy center/design business to work as a graphic designer. Bader has a Bachelor’s in Public Relations and Advertising from the Islamic University of Gaza. He put his information out there and soon after, he was called in for a job. They liked him. But as Bader continued to talk to other people, people explained that long term stay for refugees was not easily attainable; it was very difficult to earn money. 


At this time, Bader began to think about going to Greece. He wrote about his 21 day journey from the very first night he arrived. And it wasn’t easy. 


He recalls some of the hardest nights of his life. A reality for most refugees is that they are at the mercy of a smuggler; his group was being taken advantage of. They mocked them, took their money, belongings, even papers. They would be told to wait in a certain hotel and the group would be broken up. Mind you, the refugees were forced to use the money they had for prearranged accommodations and food, even if it was improper and inadequate. The worst was when the smuggler took their passports. The journey from Izmir to Bodrum was also difficult in that you had to have a certain Turkish resident document to even be there, so often they were left in abandoned makeshift places in the forest. They dealt with harsh conditions, cold weather... Bader recalls his group including parents who had young children with them. It didn’t end there.


Traveling by water to “safety” in Greece would not be easy. The first time getting on the dinghy boat, the motor stopped. Bader recalls having to leave and hide once again in the open cold air, or else the Turkish officials would come for him. These two nights were some of the worst two nights Bader had ever experienced. Unfortunately, over the next month, it was a back and forth with Turkish officials and he was even sent back to Istanbul at one point. Bader was jailed for one and a half months. It was extremely difficult, he had nothing but the clothes on his back. Cramped quarters, sleeping on the floor, dirty living conditions, and little to no food but crackers... the group had no idea what happened with the smuggler and and everything else they had when they fled their homes. Now, all they owned was the clothes on their backs.

After a delayed departure of 120 days, Bader and 40 others are crammed on a small rubber boat heading from Cesme, Turkey; close in proximity to the Chios Island in Greece. Upon arrival, it wasn’t the greeting they were hoping for. It was winter, cold and windy. The camps were muddy, deplorable conditions. The tent provided would have to house many individuals; 3 men crammed inside together. The generator to run electricity would only run a certain amount of hours during the day; electricity that meant connection to the outside world, to families, to news. They would walk 300 meters to just go to the bathroom.


Eventually Bader, someone who builds with purpose, with solutions, made his way to the city looking for better opportunities and conditions after 7 months. He received a permit, but still dealt with cramped conditions and little opportunity to be employed. Trying to go back to the islands, Bader tried his best in Crete even trying to find work in a mosque. But again he endured bad living conditions, the cold, and even rats. In January 2020 after another month without work, he finally received an appointment to get his fingerprints so he went back to Chios, a 9 hour trek by foot.


After a year and a half living as a refugee in these conditions, Bader wants to share his story and what he wants the world to know:


“We have to tell people we are not coming to be tourists. We left our homes, country and family because it is difficult, it is not safe and very bad. No basic livelihood (food, water). And do not forget the hardest decision crossing the Mediterranean, you might die crossing with this boat.”

“I came to find a good job. Do not judge everyone based on a few people in society. We are good people;  I am a graphic designer if I had a computer I would work right away. I hope one day I go back to being a graphic designer.”


At this point, Bader is still doing his best despite the odds against him. With COVID-19, he is unable to finish his asylum documentation but is trying to find work. He hopes to carry out his dream, and background in graphic design, living in peace within society. He has his CV ready to go. He wants to work with others, and help his community and his family.

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