Karma* is 10 years old and misses her friends in Egypt a lot. She lives with her family in an apartment in a small village in northern Sweden. They are waiting to find out if their request for asylum in Sweden has been granted or denied.
“I knew they would speak another language. I thought it would be easy, but it was a little bit hard.”
Karma is tough, but also laughs a lot. She doesn’t remember much about the family’s first day in the far north of Sweden a year ago, only that she ate a lot of crisps that day and that it was cold and rainy. The quiet village where they now live has less than 1,000 inhabitants. The contrast to the Egyptian capital Cairo, the city they left, could hardly be bigger.
“There were cars there all the time,” Karma says. “Here, it snows in winter. Me and my siblings were really excited because we had never played with snow. When it started to snow, we didn’t have any winter clothes yet, so we just put on everything we had and went out to play.”
When Karma’s family arrived at the bus station in Northern Sweden a year ago, they did not know where to go and what to do. By chance they met staff from Save the Children Sweden, who helped them and told them that people from the municipality’s refugee reception service would come soon to assist.
Most children on the move are migrating with their families, but they are still vulnerable in their new environment. Families need support to cope with change and stress when they find themselves in a totally new environment. And children need to feel safe.
Although Karma misses her two best friends from Egypt – they spent her last day in Cairo together – she has found new friends in Sweden, mostly through school.
“I had a strategy: I asked them their name!” Karma says. “Then they would ask me mine and then more questions about me and them and so on. I got to know them that way.”
The teachers at the school mostly speak English, and many of them are from other countries than Sweden. She likes the school, because she learns new things and this school is not focused on ranking, the way her school in Cairo was.
Karma loves drawing and her mother says she has an artist’s soul.
“I might want to be a painter,” Karma says. “But I have been thinking about this and maybe I will change my mind… or not.”