The Albanian (2010): “..I ended up sleeping on the street..”

Der Albaner

“I live in Germany, but I wasn’t born there. I’m originally from Kampala, Uganda. I’ve been living in Germany for close to six years and I’m doing well. It’s not like I have fully been through the same situation like the main character in the film Der Albaner (The Albanian, 2010), but there are a few similarities. Arben, a poor Albanian villager, wants to marry a beautiful girl, Etleva, from a neighboring clan, but her father has promised her to another man who is offering 10,000 Euros. So, Arben hustles his way into Germany and travels to Berlin to make money. When he finally has enough money he goes back to Albania, but he’s too late. It doesn’t end well for him. This film made me think about how unfair life can be because life isn’t just a bed of roses.”

“When I moved to Germany I had to begin from zero and all I had with me when I came to this country was my backpack and that’s it. I have relatives in Germany, but they did not help me much. In the past six years I had to learn how to speak perfect German, study for my degree and now I have a good paying job and a nice apartment. I pay my own bills. I can go on vacation whenever I like, but this didn’t fall from heaven. Six years ago I didn’t understand a single word of the German language. I had to work hard, sometimes hustle, adjust to their society and understand how the system works.”

“One time I went to a club with some of my cousins and that’s where I met a nice-looking German girl. She liked me too so we kept in touch. Back then I was living in Stuttgart and she lived just outside of Frankfurt. I took the train to Frankfurt and she was supposed to pick me up at 8 pm. She didn’t show up. I tried to call her, but she switched off her phone. I kept waiting for her because I still hoped she’d show up. Around 10 pm I was still standing there stranded and my phone’s battery had died. Around midnight I had asked to charge my phone at a shop and called her again someone finally picked up the phone, but it was her sister who told me that she was sleeping. So, I ended up sleeping on the street, because I didn’t know anyone in Frankfurt. I joined a few people who were sleeping on the street. They had a tent and it was raining and I slept on the floor with them to wait for the train in the morning to take me back to Stuttgart. I’ve slept on the street before, but okay it was just one night. I cannot compare my experience to someone who is forced to sleep every night on the street. At the end of the day, I’m still standing and I’m happy. My life is good and for that I thank god.”

Photo and story by Feargal Agard