by Naheel Younes


Hope : Have. Only. Positive. Expectations.

It’s being able to see that there’s a light despite all the darkness surrounding and reminding yourself that life will improve one day.

Hope is something that we feel, a magical power that pushes us to believe. Believe in ourselves, believe in the bright side and believe in positive thoughts.

It’s magical how hope can turn your life upside down and how it leads into positivity. It’s just a feeling that you get, something that you believe in and faith that never ends.

So, as I mentioned before, hope is a magical power, which leads you to the road that you desire and have always dreamt of. Some people’s lives have gone astray and gone through roads they have never thought of going through, but hope led them to the right path again. While others have never imagined that they would ever achieve and reach their dreams there were people who never stopped hoping and believing in themselves and now they’re living the life they have always wanted, dreamt of and hoped to live one day.

Just like a fairy tale, one magical word that consists of four letters can change your life and turn it upside down, but only if you believe in every single letter and its meaning. Everyone of us knows at least one person whose hope was all he had at a certain time. He or she had no choice, except to stay strong and to never lose hope. And I know someone like that too, I know her very well … It was me.

Five years ago, I had nothing but hope in this life. I was 16 when I left my home country. There were just two of us, me and my mother, alone in a new country where we knew no one but a friend of my mother.

That woman has been my main source of hope and positivity ever since.

We stayed at their home for five days, then she took us to Traiskirchen where refugees normally apply for asylum.

Traiskirchen wasn’t really a good place to stay, I saw and knew that the moment we arrived there. The first thing we had to do, was to go to the police office, so we fill some applications and give a short interview where random questions were asked. They took our identity cards as a proof that we’re truly Palestinians and then, they started to ask us about our passports.

A police officer came and asked my mother about the passports, so she answered : “We’ve cut them.”

He asked : “Why?”

My mother answered: “Because we were afraid of you taking us back to Palestine, as you did with so many.”

Two other police officers came and started shouting loudly, until one who was really hard-hearted looked at us and said : “ Jail! Jail! No passport, jail! “

Imagine all of this happening to a 16 year old girl who was still considered a minor in her homeland, and whose already feeling bad about leaving her home, family and friends. All that she has built in her home country, her achievements and her success to all the experiences she has made. She chose Austria, because of a film she saw when she was younger and kept in her mind, so she said to herself : “ One day, I’ll visit the country that the movie was shot in.” And after years, she did.

What a way of welcoming a 16 year old refugee and her mother! It was a very bad beginning for us and we’d never expected that.

I was shaking, so my mother gathered all her strength, calmed me down and said “Don’t worry they can’t take us to jail, look at all those people outside. They would have kept them in jail too if that was right.”

I smiled and said nothing.

We stayed in Traiskirchen for about three days and then we were taken to another place where we had to stay.

We were taken to “Sankt Nikola”, a small village in Upper Austria with huge beautiful mountains, the Danube and Hotel zur Post, where we had to stay.

Hotel zur Post was a place that looked warm from the outside but it was really cold on the inside. A hotel that was turned into a pension for refugees, where we were given a small room that had a rest room and a bathroom inside. The kitchen, which the refugees shared, was very small. There were Three shelves to put all the things we were given by the hotel owner (which were two pots, couple of plates, couple of knives, forks, spoons and two glasses ).

The kitchen consisted of one table, a small cooker and a small place to wash the dishes. The things we were given were already used, they looked like they were used thousand of times before even though the hotel owner took a surety of 50 Euros for them. He took ten Euros every time he gave us the monthly money that we supposed to take for buying food. He gave us a paper all the house rules were written on and made sure that we have understood them and would obey and not break any of them as some refugees did. These rules were the worst rules that any one would ever obey or even agree with.

Here are some of these rules which really annoyed me: After 9 pm and till 7:30 am the warm water was shut down so basically you couldn’t take a warm shower before going to sleep. It was also closed for three hours during the day and the cooker was also closed at the same time. The families had to cook before 11 am so their children would have something to eat after coming from school. These rules also allowed the hotel owner to open and enter your room to control whatever he wants, whenever he wants, even if you’re not there and without your permission! And yes, he did it to us once and since then I’ve, never felt like I’m a normal human being who has the right of having some privacy in her life. It was one of the worst feelings that anyone could feel.

Our first winter in Austria was the time we have suffered the most, It was too cold, too windy and too snowy. The heaters were controlled by him from his control room and they were set on such a low degree that we didn’t feel any warmth, so the room was almost as cold as outside. No one was allowed to bring or use any electrical heaters. I remember someone did before. She was a woman with a child and it was taken by him immediately.

Not only were the electrical heaters forbidden in the hotel, but also many electrical tools, like microwaves and hair dryers.

These were only some examples of what we went through and what we experienced and felt at that time, so how would it feel for you going through all of this?

Would anyone have hope or even think that tomorrow is going to be a better day?

Would you wake up, telling yourself “I’ll survive this and I won’t let anything break me?”

Would you believe in a new day where everything is better?

Would you believe in happiness?

Yes, I would.

Every time we called my mother’s friend, she used to tell me something that I will never forget “Don’t worry, nothing stays as it is forever, things will get better. You’re stronger than anyone and I’m sure that you can make it”

She gave me hope and strength. She believed in me and supported me. Isn’t that enough to have hope in my life?

Because of her words, I believed that we were living through something won’t last forever. As long as I have hope, I’ll achieve what I’ve always wanted and dreamt of.

Some people give me hope just by talking to them. It could be seen in their eyes that they have positive thoughts and energy to spread to everyone they meet. Maybe because they believe in the power of hope more than anything else, as I did, do and will always do.

I’ve been lost for the first two years in Austria, where all what I had to do is to learn German and attend the polytechnic school which wasn’t the suitable school for me. I wasted a lot of time which I don’t regret, but if time went back I would have never done this. Unfortunately, I had nothing else to do that period. It was the only suitable school for my age, at least until I learned German so that I could attend a high school.

I attended that school for two years. I used to think about my future every single day and ask myself: Am I doing anything that gets me closer to my dream?. My dream was to graduate from high school at that time. The answer was : no, I wasn’t. It felt really bad, because I knew I wasn’t doing anything that got me closer to my dream and I had nothing to do with that! But I had no possibilities to change it.

Everytime I called my friends or texted them while they were busy preparing for their finals, I envied them for what they were doing and what they were preparing themselves for. After finals, there usually comes prom which all the students are super excited for and they’re ready to have the night of their lives. My friends were texting me all the time and sending me their pictures and I would lie, if I didn’t say that I was more than jealous and mad, because my life is going the wrong way and I couldn’t do anything about it.

After I finished my second year in the polytechnic school, I was trying to find another school to accept me which allowed me to attend a year without getting any grades and I found one which wasn’t really the one, but I had no other choices.

Another person was my main source of hope at that time, a Jordanian- American pianist whose compositions inspired me the most to never give up and which fed me a huge amount of positive energy every morning, whenever I listened to them while I was on my way to school. Something inside me told me to never lose hope, keep my head up and think positive. So I did, until one day, I had the opportunity to attend an Arabic school in Vienna, where I could finish the 11th and 12th grade, finish my studies and graduate!

After all the suffering, stress and depression, I finally had the chance to walk the road that I desire and reach my dream. Now, and after four years of waiting, I can finally say that we live in our own private home.

Hope can be found in everything around us, in every situation we go through and in the darkest places. It was Hope which made me what I’m today, this version of Naheel who fought to achieve what she dreamt of.

To whoever who is reading this: please don’t lose hope. There’s always a chance for everything to change and get better. Be the one who makes the world believe in the power of hope. Take a look around you and see all the positivity and put it in your mind not to give up, because hope is a key for all the blocked doors that hinder you from going your way. If you own it, you own the whole world.

With hope I lived, I’m living and I’ll live.