Elmira Abasbekova

My name is Elmira. I am 55 years old. By education, I am an engineer. I am a daughter, a mother, and a wife. I have three children, all sons. I’ve been in Poland since April 2011.

In the past, I worked at an agency that handled public relations for both the administrative parties and the opposition parties simultaneously. I was a member of a party’s campaign team and also served as an observer in the Central Electoral Commission. I know all the ins and outs of this political environment firsthand.

Problems started after another revolution, when there was a change of power, and persecutions of people who had worked with the previous government began. I was forced to leave the country under any pretext. My husband had already been in Sweden during this time, and with three children, I obtained a Polish visa and joined him there. However, after a few months, according to the Dublin Agreement, a decision was made to deport me and the children back to Poland. That’s how we ended up in a camp for women and children. Later, my husband applied for family reunification, and we received a positive response. In total, we were separated for 1 year and 10 months.

I have always been inspired by people with open hearts who can find the right words to make you believe in yourself

After 4.5 years, following a petition initiated by the classmates of my eldest son and signed by more than 4,000 people in 3 days, we were granted permission for humanitarian stay in Poland. Throughout this time, a large number of Poles helped us: some provided emotional support, some helped us find jobs, and some taught us new things.

I have always been inspired by people with open hearts who can find the right words to make you believe in yourself, in your strengths and abilities. Being a refugee is a constant feeling of fear: first, you lose your familiar environment, your home, and your homeland. Then you arrive in a “foreign” home and try to understand how well you fit in, whether you can assimilate, embrace the new culture and mindset. Then you realize that much depends on you, on your motivation, on whether you can cope with nostalgia for your homeland, friends, and the shared past.

The most challenging part is to understand what you have in common with the people around you, and the most crucial question is whether you have a future in the country you are in.

Currently, I work in two foundations – Fundacja dla Wolności and Fundacja Dobry Start, where wonderful people with big hearts work. My colleagues and I share a common goal – helping foreigners, migrants, and refugees integrate into society, resolving various difficult situations, sharing useful information and our experiences. Do I regret the way my life has turned out? No. I’ve been fortunate to meet many people from different cultures, find friends, and discover another homeland. I’m grateful that fate has allowed me to find myself and my new calling.

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