Murtaza Azimi (16) is originally from Afghanistan. He arrived in Austria in summer 2015. Today, he is living in the Georg-Danzer-Haus in Stockerau (Lower Austria), where he is also attending school to obtain a school certificate. He has not been granted asylum yet.
Murtaza: My name is Murtaza, I am 16 years old and I was born in Afghanistan. I went to Iran when I was very young. In Iran, there is no life for Afghans. After one or two years, my dad was deported to Afghanistan. We couldn’t get in touch with him and lost contact, though we eventually got in touch with him a few months ago. After my father was deported, we went to Turkey, and there I lost my family, though I found them again later.
TBA21: Why did you come to Austria?
Murtaza: I didn’t realize where I was. I didn’t know. I came here, I liked it here, so I stayed. I didn’t know exactly what kind of a place this was.
TBA21: When did you realize where you were?
Murtaza: When I talked to the police.
TBA21: How did you first hear about Green light?
Murtaza: Our guardian Marianne told us that the project would be a chance for all of us who are not going to school yet. A place where we could learn German, and do something like work, a place where we could spend our time.
TBA21: So did you have any expectations before coming?
Murtaza: No, not really. I was very curious about the project. We knew about German classes, about work, and about school, but I have never heard of a project like that. So I wanted to know at least what it would be about. But first of all, I came for the German classes. They said it would be a native teacher, so I thought I would learn the language faster.
TBA21: And what was the reason you came regularly?
Murtaza: I’ve never seen anything like that lamp and anything like that place before and it was the first time in my life that I was doing something like that. Every day was interesting and exciting for me. I never did that kind of handwork before: I sanded, made strings, and sometimes finished a lamp, which was also an art object at the same time, and I did that at a place with lots of different people from all over the world. There were black people, white people, people speaking English and many other different languages. We were all doing something together. I’ve never seen anything like that before. Really.
TBA21: What do you remember most?
Murtaza: I realized how quickly my German improved. Before the project I could not compose a sentence. I somehow understood what people were trying to tell me, but I couldn’t respond. While working on the project I spoke better and better by the day and I understood more and more. At the end, it was still a place where everybody spoke German, so I had to learn. And I somehow did, without realizing it.
TBA21: You learned a language. Did you learn anything else beside it too?
Murtaza: Of course. I learned how to talk to—or at least, lose my discomfort in the presence of—people from other countries. I learned a lot about living together, alongside others. I learned a lot about myself and about good manners and the importance of the way you behave.
TBA21: Green light was an art project primarily. We produced lamps, we ate together, we attended workshops together. What was the “arty” side of it for you?
Murtaza: To me, it was that all these different people from all those different countries came together and built that lamp. So on the one hand, making the lamp was like making art, or producing art. But it was also the fact that all those different people were taking part in this project and you could never tell what would happen next, so this was also kind of art by itself. I’ve never seen anything like that lamp before, you know.
TBA21: What did you like the most about the lamp?
Murtaza: The lamp itself was fascinating to me. A lamp made of wood. That is definitely art.
TBA21: So, the idea was always to establish a get-together by a common task.
Murtaza: Yes, the project meant structure. Since the project ended, I’ve been taking language courses and two times a week I play football, and that’s it. It’s exhausting. Not being able to do anything is exhausting. Not doing anything is exhausting by itself.
This interview was conducted by Anahita Tabrizi on October 17, 2016.