Ruslan Trad: I saw many animated faces, people with ambitions, determined to keep going."

Our next special guests are Sabrina and Ruslan Trad. They agreed to give their valuable advice to refugees and asylum seekers on social relations and lifestyles in Bulgaria, and talked about Bulgarian customs and traditions. This is what they shared after the meeting with the participants within the module “How to recognize that I’m in Bulgaria?”

Blitz interview with Sabrina Trad, volunteer with „Humanitarian Aid for Refugees in Bulgaria:


1. Could you shortly introduce yourself?

My name is Sabrina Trad. I am doing a master degree at the Faculty of History at Sofia University. I am a volunteer at a home for medico-social care for children up to 3 years old as well as at the refugee camps in Sofia.

2. What is your previous contact with refugees and asylum seekers?

As an administrator of the Facebook page Humanitarian Aid for Refugees in Bulgaria and together with some other volunteers we collect and sort clothes, distribute donations in the refugee camps in Sofia and we try to be of help in all possible ways we can. Moreover, I participated in a project of CVS – Bulgaria and Caritas Sofia for teaching Bulgarian and English languages to the children from the Centre in Ovcha Kupel.

3. Did you have prior expectations about the event and the participants? If yes, what where they?

I expected it to be difficult to organize so many people and to keep their attention. However, my fears were unfounded.

4. Was there something which surprised you or made a strong impression on you at the event and did you take something from this experience?

I was definitely very impressed that everything was happening so smoothly and easily. All of us found it very interesting and the topics which we discussed were useful and sparked interesting comments. I definitely left with a wonderful feeling.

5. Would you like to add something or to address the participants, the organizers, and the blog readers?

I would like to wish the event organizers a lot of success and inspiration in order to continue to be helpful in the same spirit to people who need attention and assistance! I turn to your readers with a plea to follow your enthusiasm and as the popular song goes “May there be, may there be one good creature standing by the side of all others…”

***

Blitz interview with Ruslan Trad, founder of “Forum for Arab Culture” and author of the blog "Intidar":

1. Could you shortly introduce yourself?

My name is Ruslan Trad and I am a political commentator of the Middle East and the international politics. I have my own blog on the topic and in 2009 I together with some colleagues of mine, founded the NGO called “Forum for Arab Culture” where we present Arab culture to the Bulgarian public. I have given lectures at the New Bulgarian University, the Sofia University and the Diplomatic Institute on cultural diversity in the Middle East and the political realities in the region.

2. What is your previous contact with refugees and asylum seekers?

So far I have only seen refugee camps in Syria and Lebanon, mostly Palestinian camps which have existed for decades. They were created after the wars against Israel in 1948, 1967 and 1973. Before that time I had not faced the reality which we witness now with the Syrian crisis. In 2012 I saw with my own eyes the consequences of the civil war in Syria in the midst of Beirut: children and women were begging in the centre of the Lebanese capital, most of them did not have anything but their clothes.

3. Did you have prior expectations about the event and the participants? If yes, what where they?

When you meet people like them, you always have expectations. You are asking yourself what they are, where they came from. You want to know their stories. Of course, it is very difficult to do that, the time is always too short and most of the people feel uneasy to tell them right away. My expectations came true in the most positive sense. I saw many animated faces, people with ambitions, determined to keep going despite the hardships in their lives. I took a good lesson from them; I always do so after meeting refugees and immigrants coming from conflict zones. Their eyes, their faces, their thoughts: they are all different from those of people who live in peace and have not had any of these troubles on their minds.

4. Was there something which surprised you or made a strong impression on you at the event and did you take something from this experience?

As I said, you always take something from such meetings with you, something which keeps you restless and does not give you peace hours and hours after its end. You are asking yourself how they keep finding the strength to keep going. We complain from our lives, but our illusions are easily broken when we face people who have been through so much.
  
5. Would you like to add something or to address the participants, the organizers, and the blog readers?

The organizers: you are great! I do not mean it only in the sense of people. They are my friends and I appreciate what they do very much. But I’m also talking about their ideas and their projects. Keep up the good work, because we can only make some progress in breaking stereotypes by mutual understanding and providing information. The situation in the country makes it necessary to be responsible and in this sense, projects like this one are imperative. Thank you once again!

I would like to say only one thing to the readers: ask yourself “why”. Do not believe all information, enrich yourselves, read, be interested in things. Ask yourselves questions, ask the society. This is highly necessary!

***

We would like to thank Sabrina and Ruslan for their participation in the cultural orientation programme for refugees and asylum seekers and we wish them all the best in their professional activities!


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eea grants / a25 culgoral foundation

eea grants / a25 culgoral foundation