Watch: Two refugees in Malta tell their inspiring stories

In a heartfelt interview, a young man and woman open up about the situations that led them to seek asylum and become refugees in Malta.

Human trafficking survivor Agnes is now free to pursue her dream of becoming a nurse © Lovin Malta/UNHCR Malta

What would you do if it was no longer possible for you to live in your country?

In a heartfelt interview, a young man and woman open up about the situations that led them to seek asylum and become refugees in Malta.

Dali, from Tunisia, and Agnes, from Zimbabwe, have refugee status. This means Malta has given them protection from being returned home, where their lives would be in danger. It means the difference between a life of fear, and a life of hope.

No two refugees are alike

As refugees, they have the right to legally reside, work, and study in Malta; to contribute to the society we live in. However, even once they are granted rights, being a refugee is not often easy, as they face many of the challenges that come with trying to integrate in a new community. Both of them are overcoming these challenges every day with determination.

Dali and Agnes’s experiences serve as living proof of the sheer diversity of the refugee experience, and how no two refugee stories can ever be exactly alike.

Dali: Free to be himself

As a member of the LGBTIQ community, Dali was persecuted in his country, where homosexuality is illegal. Now that he is in Malta, he is free to be himself without any threat to his life. Back home, he could have been arrested and been put in prison for three years based on his sexuality.

“I am feeling super safe in Malta as a human being,” says Dali, who is pursuing his studies in performing arts at MCAST. He lives in Fgura with his partner Chakib and his lovable pet dog Bobby, and he is also a dedicated activist, advocating for the rights of LGBTIQ people.

Agnes: No longer in bondage 

Agnes, a wife and mother, went through a lot of hardship in the first few years she was in Malta. She is a survivor of trafficking, as she was brought to Malta under the pretense of fair employment, but soon found herself trapped in a situation she could not escape, exploited and denied freedom by her employer. Even when she managed to flee, she was mistreated again by her next employer. With time she found a way to escape again and with the support of Maltese law enforcement and NGOs, she got her life back on track. She could not return to Zimbabwe because she is at risk of political persecution there and needed to seek asylum.

“I am feeling safe, and I am comfortable now… I am not in a bondage like before.” Agnes is about to start a nursing course at university. She is also writing her story, hoping to get it published as a book and raise awareness on the experience of someone who was trafficked and exploited.

‘Maybe one day you will be a refugee’

What really emerges from these two refugees’ stories is encapsulated in Agnes’ final words: “Maybe one day you will be a refugee,” she tells Jon, our interviewer.

She is right: we never know why we might suddenly be threatened in our own country, or what conflicts could break out, making it impossible to live in our homes. Any of us could find ourselves having to seek safety in a distant land, and if this happened, we would want to feel assured that there are laws to protect us and communities to welcome us, so that we can have the opportunity to live a life free from fear, harm and persecution.

Watch Dali and Agnes tell their stories

This video was produced as a collaboration between UNHCR Malta and Lovin Malta.