Echo refugee library

Refugee voices: Shayan

20th June 2019 | Blog

Iranian refugee Shayan lives in Athens. He dreams of one day working in the music industry and currently tours around local refugee camps with NGO Echo‘s mobile library, teaching music to children. But it was also his love for music that forced him to leave Iran.

Here Shayan shares his story and how books are helping him and others like him to keep learning and hoping for a better future.



My name is Shayan – I’m from Iran and I’ve come to Europe, so I’m happy!

I left Iran because I loved metal music. I’m a musician, I play guitar. I started a metal band with my friends – but this was illegal. In Iran they think metal music is from Satan. Because of my t-shirt, a Marilyn Manson t-shirt, I went to the jail. Can you believe it?


Reading in the mobile library
Echo’s mobile library that Shayan tours camps and community centres with

There was no hope for me in Iran, I would have died there. I couldn’t stay.

I left three years ago. I was in Turkey for almost a year and then I came to Chios. I didn’t come directly to Athens. I came by boat from Turkey to Chios.

I tried to cross the border into Turkey three times but they caught us and sent us back. But the third time I crossed on a horse over the mountain! Then on the boat from Turkey I had to be brave – I didn’t know how to swim and didn’t have a life jacket but I had to cross on the boat.

I have a dream to study music, work in music, maybe backstage. I think you should know why you are born.

I love to read history books because history teaches us about the future – how to make less mistakes in the future.

I like to read in English and Greek. I use dictionaries for checking new words.

If you are in a camp you are penned in. You have to apply for asylum when you arrive and until you have your application accepted you have to stay. The situation is terrible. In the summer, inside the heat is like a microwave. There are a lot of criminals there too. I had to stay in the camp for nine months. It was a long time.

If you are in the camp it can be easy to get depressed.

But books can give refugees more passion and widen their horizons.

Some book could be near to your experience, so when you’re reading you can say ‘ok, this guy was like me! He was so helpless, poor but he succeeded. He’s done it. So why cannot I do it too?’


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