A refugee in Latvia: Ahmed, translator-to-be for fellow refugees

46-year-old Ahmed from Baghdad has arrived in Latvia with his family and has been here for nine months. He wants to open a restaurant of traditional Iraqi foods, or become an interpreter to help other asylum seekers. Read his story in Latvian Radio's latest strand about refugees who want to live in Latvia and are residing at the asylum seekers' center in Mucenieki.

Ahmed arrives to the interview with his wife and two daughters. He's a great jester, and cracks funny phrases in Latvian prior to the interview.

In Iraq, he worked at an international gas company, while his wife Duha worked at a bank.

Ahmed is trying to learn Latvian while the family awaits a court decision on whether they'll be allowed to stay in Latvia.

"I like the Latvian language," said Ahmed, who is evidently slower in learning Latvian than his two teenage daughters. They often help their father to finish sentences during the interview.

His wife helps, too, and for his gratuitous use of the internet and others' help Ahmed's language teacher has nicknamed him the Fox. The endearment has made its way into his family as well. He often switches to English, which is easier for him, if he cannot say what he means in Latvian.

Ahmed admits that he had at first tried looking for answers to his Latvian teacher's questions on the internet, however he is now dedicated to learn as much Latvian as he can, under the auspices of his teacher Dace.

He says that he's studying Turkish, Kurdish, and Persian, as he'd like to become a translator/interpreter in Latvia. His original plan however was to open a small Iraqi restaurant together with his family where they'd sell traditional Iraqi bread stuffed with dates.

A small business in Rīga would allow him to support the family and to pay for studies at the university for one of his daughters; however, Ahmed would like to learn a new profession if Latvia recognizes him as a refugee on legal terms.

With sorrow in his voice, Ahmed says that an act of terror was carried out at his native Baghdad this month, and the situation is not stable in the neighboring regions as well.

That's why he thinks that more people, including from Afghanistan and Iran, will ask for asylum in Latvia. He hopes to help these people by translating and interpreting for them.

Ahmed, of course, knew neither Latvian law nor the language upon moving here, so it has been difficult. He hopes to help other asylum seekers as he knows what people have to go through here.

Asked to tell something to the audience, Ahmed writes, in Latvian, on a poster: "I want to live here with my family. Good luck to you all!"

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