I was working on whatever I could to survive. So that was a big challenge. I would say I didn't face much trouble, but other people do
My name is Ali. I’m from Pakistan, but I spent a lot of my life outside, in Saudi Arabia. I was born in 1991 and we first moved to Saudi Arabia when I was 6 months old. We changed cities every couple of years. My dad was trying to do business there, but his business failed. Because of that, he didn’t have another option left, so he sent us back to Pakistan. To me, living in Pakistan was a good experience. I was really happy because I had a lot of cousins there, a huge family, so I was having a really nice time.
My dad got sick and came back from Saudi Arabia. He was there for some months and we didn’t have any source of income. We are farmers, but it was not enough for the whole family to survive. My brother and sister were in school, there were a lot of fees to pay and it was becoming very hard. Somehow, thanks to God, I got an agriculture visa to leave Pakistan. I didn’t apply for it, my mother did it. For a few months, we had no clue how we were going to survive, and then suddenly the application got accepted. I was very happy because I was going to be able to support my family. I always wanted to move to Europe, but my preference was to get a student visa and do higher education here and get a decent job. I was trying for mechanical engineering. The universities gave me admission but the process for student visas from Pakistan is complicated. Also, in Pakistan, you end up paying a lot of university fees, like 5 or 6 thousand a year, and you can’t earn that kind of money living there. Here you can work part-time and manage to earn some money to pay your fees the next year. So that’s why I wanted to get an education here. I ended up getting the agriculture visa, a different thing.
Initially, I flew to Italy. I spent a week there. I didn’t know how to get work there and I never did farming work in my whole life. I didn’t want to spend my time under the sun on a farm, I didn’t have this experience. I was trying to figure out what to do next. My cousin was living in Barcelona and he called me. He sent me a ticket, I took the next flight and landed in Barcelona. He took really care of me. I love Barcelona and I love Spain. It’s been six years now. I got so lucky. I wouldn’t say I faced many things. I had to wait for three years to apply for a resident card. It wasn’t illegal because I had empadronamiento, I had rights, but I was working illegally for a lot of time. I was working on whatever I could to survive. So that was a big challenge. I would say I didn’t face much trouble, but other people do. People don’t get work, it isn’t easy to get work illegally. There are people who are working here just for food and a roof, they aren’t getting paid. That’s how bad the conditions are sometimes. There’s a lot of fraud, people face huge obstacles daily and nobody knows about it.
Now that I have my resident card, I’m legal here so I can do anything I want. I always wanted to go to university, so when I got my resident card I went to the university and tried to get information. I ended up realizing I didn’t think I was ready for that, because there was a huge gap in my education. So instead I thought I could learn some skills and do something better. So I was looking for different opportunities and I was interested in coding and programming. I tried it and I wrote some very simple HTML code and I ended up making a website, it was the best thing. It was so beautiful, you know you write something and you look at this beautiful output. Now I am doing coding with Migracode and my goal is to learn from here and get a good decent job. After completing my course I will look for opportunities here, I will try my best. If I don’t get what I want, I will go to other cities or other countries where I can be free, that’s my goal professionally.
My favorite memory is my family, I have many uncles and aunties. They have children with huge age gaps, so I have hundreds of cousins and they are all settled somewhere, so I had many options of where to go to hang out. I could go wherever I wanted. I had a really awesome time. Wherever I would go I got a warm welcome, it was wonderful. I miss that. I was free there, I mean I’m still free here, but I had entire freedom. I was a child, I could do everything. I tried a lot of business ideas. My country somehow is suitable to try business ideas, you can just start the next day. It was really easy to shift, I was so young and energetic. I was always ready. I like to do such experiments, which I can’t do here.
My ultimate goal is to do something back for my country, my society, my village where I come from. I want to give back to my society, to give people the resources to get to know the IT sector. And not just in my country but in the world. Now with the covid situation happening and a lot is going on, every country has problems with other countries, there is a crisis in the entire world. I hope it will end and I dream of a peaceful world. When I was living in Pakistan I wasn’t able to see these things. But now I’m living here and I get to know and meet a lot of people from different cultures and it’s really important to me. I dream for a peaceful world. I don’t want to see any more wars, I want to see a united world and where everyone is holding hands with each other.