Nidal Mustafa

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I am not Danish, but I am no longer Iraqi either. Iraq is a ravaged country. War destroys people. My family members were communists. They were educated and cultured and had a good life. But following the war, they lost all their belongings and also their morals. Even though my family is still alive, it doesn’t feel like it. My home should be where my family is.

My life has been an adventure full of excitement and drama. Already when I was 17, I was a well-known actress in Baghdad, and I loved every minute of it. But everything changed when Saddam came to power, and I was forced to flee. After a couple of years in exile, I returned to fight for my country. For four years I lived in the mountains in the northern part of Iraq. We lived under very poor conditions, no running water or electricity. When I became pregnant it was too dangerous for me to stay due to Saddam bombing the area with chemical weapons. I have lived in three different countries before I came to Denmark, and I have always been able to work in my field of expertise, but here it is impossible. There are very strict demands as to the language, so I have had to train myself as hairdresser, beautician and health care assistant. The many years in the mountains have taken their toll on my body, so I find it problematic to work. I suffer in particular from arthritis as a direct result of the many hours we spent in ice-cold rivers hiding from the military. I still try to keep my adventure alive, but my life is no longer the same. I don’t have anything to fight for any more.

57 years / female / single / children / trained health care assistant / Copenhagen S / from Iraq / came to Denmark in 1992 / residence permit in 1994