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I grew up in Iraq and one day, when I was 8 years old, I came back from school and my mom told me we are going to go on holiday. And I was like, oh, really, and she went, yeah, tonight. So I was like, how long for, where we go, and she said it was a surprise, and she said, but you can take one item with you and I went up to my room and I got a bag and she said no, one item, so I took this. So, my little doll, I picked this item and we left on the back of a van with a few bags, 1994. Then, over the course of a few weeks, it was not holiday, we were escaping, we were going through the marsh from Iraq to Iran and crossing. We would move in the night and hide in the day, because there are troops and if they spot you they shoot you and so we had to cross, basically we crossed the borders from Iraq to Iran and then it took a few days and then we had to keep quiet and my mom played a game, to not wake the baby up. 

Then we ended up in Iran, in a camp, for a year. Once we got to Iran they got us in a camp and we actually lived in the borders, in the marsh, on the Iranian side. So we were there for about six weeks and then we got taken into Iran in a proper camp with running water and things, so we were in the camp for a year and then came to England but this is the only item I got from Iraq. 

I look at it and I think it triggers a lot of memories from my childhood before that point, because I’ve changed very much after that point and I think I became more of a sad child after we left, because I missed home, I missed my friends. 

We came to England after a year and we didn’t speak English, so I think I look at this item and this side of life before and after, so I find comfort in looking at it, you know. And then I guess there is also a bit of sadness, not knowing why we leave and it’s very upsetting, I carried that into my adulthood and I think I never let go of it until I worked with the Refugee Project, and I worked with other refugees and I saw parents doing the same thing with their kids and so I saw what sacrifices those parents and also my parents had to go through. 

But I think utterly we can be very angry of having to let go of that life and having to start anew without having a choice or without saying bye to your friends, so yeah I remember the life that I used to have in this thing. 

I was the youngest child, there were four of us, so a sister who is 10 years older than me, a brother who is 9 years older than me and another sister who is 2 years older than me. I grew up in West London and then I went to university in South London and I studied biomedical science and then I wanted to go into cardiology so I had to do another degree to go into cardiology, I had to do clinical physiology specialising in cardiology and we had to do hospital attachment in cardiology. One of the hospitals that does the cardiology attachment is the Conquest Hospital in Hastings, so I’d loved to see it and I wanted to get off London, so I moved to Hastings for that job in 2008. I don’t really like Hastings though, because it isn’t very much cultural, it doesn’t have very much going on, there are no refugees, there are no mixed race people. 

So when I finished, it was a three-year post, so when I finished it in 2011 I went to New Zealand for a year to work, because we could, once you qualify. So I worked in New Zealand for a year and that made me appreciate actually Hastings as really beautiful, because I saw a lot of things in New Zealand that made me think, god, Hastings is perfect, so I ended up coming back to Hastings, I was coming back just for one year and then see what happens and then I ended up staying. 

I think in 2013 I moved back and then they offered me a job and I stayed to do specialty exams. I thought right after this I would go to Pointon because I knew there was a lot of refugee work at Pointon and then I met a Syrian family at work and so then I started volunteering for Refugee Buddy Project, so I ended up staying in Hastings. 

I didn’t take the doll in New Zealand, I’m very scared of losing it, I think it’s been in my parents’ loft for a while and I obviously do move it to places with me and but I went to New Zealand I left it at my parents’ because you never know, you might lose your luggage or something. I was even afraid I would drop it when I was cycling!

– Ieser


Creator of object:
Place / Country of creation:
Year / Era of creation:
Type / Description of object:
Object route:
Iraq – Iran – United Kingdom (Hastings)
Year / Era of movement:
1994 – 1995
Reason of movement:
Political refugee
License of digital image:


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