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Culture

My piece of hope: Kidame awaits deportation, picture in hand

When he looks at the photo of his Eritrean mother on his cell phone, Kidame knows that she is somehow with him. But nothing else in his life is certain.

As hundreds of thousands of refugees are entering Germany, the country is facing the challenge - and opportunity - of the century. In this DW series, "My piece of hope," refugees share their personal stories of persecution, escape and waiting. Each individual shows one significant object they've brought with them on their journey - their "piece of hope."

Kidame laughs. It is not a self-confident, happy laugh, but rather one to hide his embarrassment. Kidame left everything he loved behind: His home in an Eritrean village, his parents, his beautiful girlfriend Merkeb. It particularly pains him to be separated from her. He spent a year fleeing. He holds onto his cell phone*, his own piece of hope.

His deportation order is on the table.

Oddly enough, the 19-year-old puts on an indifferent face. The table, the bed, the flickering television: This is the backdrop which accompanies him throughout this unbearable period of waiting. Kidame waits, as he does not know when they will come to get him and send him back to Italy.

When he arrived months ago, he thought he had finally reached his ultimate goal. "Then they took my fingerprints."

At least one of them should reach Europe

"Nothing is okay at home," he says. "In Eritrea, I would now be a soldier and would have to fight." Like his older brother, he was forced to join the military after school. Five months later, Kidame decided to flee. It took him four days to walk to Sudan. He then continued on the back of a pick-up through the desert to Libya, and finally took a boat to Italy.

He is still astonished that he actually managed to collect $3,200 to pay the smugglers. His family and friends all helped. "At least one of us should it make it to Europe."

Kidame's old phone flickers while he tells his story. A helper gave it to him. He also received his t-shirt, pants and sneakers in the refugee center. He doesn't have anything from home, not even the clothes he was wearing when he left.

When the phone momentarily works, Kidame shows me the picture of a woman in her wedding dress: It's his mother Rufay. His friends sent him the photo. "She's probably thinking of me now," he hopes.

Kidame hopes to become a technician. He wants to make money and send it to his family back home. But that won't be happening in Germany. His asylum application was declared "inadmissible" and rejected. Once he is deported, he may not reenter the country.

He smokes a cigarette with his friend Tesfalem. They met in the refugee center. "I don't know what will happen to me," says Kidame. They both stand there, helpless.