Erduan - an interview
Ten-year old stateless boy in Serbia1
Erduan was born in Belgrade. At the time of his birth, his mother did not have any personal documents and therefore she used her sister’s identification document in the maternity hospital. Consequently, this sister was registered as his mother in the birth registry book. The procedure for challenging the maternity is ongoing and for now, Erduan does not have a nationality. Only when (and if) the maternity of his real mother is legally established, will he be able to be recognised as a Serbian citizen.
Where are you from? Where are your parents from?
Iam from Belgrade, and my parents are from Kosovo.
Do you go to school? What is your favourite thing about school, and what is your least favourite thing about school?
I don’t go to school. I went to school only for a few months.
Do you like any extra-curricular activities,sports, clubs, theatre etc.?
I like playing football the most. I play football whenever I can.Otherwise, I work with my dad. He collects cardboards on the streets.
Whatdo you want to be when you grow up?
I would like to play football or to collect cardboards.
Wouldyou like to go to school? Do you think it would help you in life? What would you like to learn at school?
Maybe I would... I know that at school you learn how to read and write, and how to calculate.
Have you ever had to work? Why? What job did you do? Was it difficult to get a job?
Yes, I have been working with my dad for long. We collect cardboards together.
Whatdoes ‘home’ mean to you – can you describe it?
Itis my place. My mum, dad, brother and sisters are there.
Do you have documentation? Do you need documentation?
I don’t have documents. I haven’t needed them so far.
Do you know what the documents are for and what they mean to people?
When you have documents,you can “do a job”, go to a doctor. When you don’t have documents, you cannot do anything.
What makes you most happy?
I am happy when my dad gives me some money and then I can buy ice-cream or something else for myself.
When our child was born, neither my wife nor I had personal documents. My wife didn’t have a health booklet or any other personal document, so we were afraid that without it she wouldn’t be taken in the maternity hospital and she would have to pay enormous hospital expenses, so she took her sister’s identification card. Therefore, my wife’s sister was registered as the mother of our son. Since my wife’s sister did not have a citizenship, my son could not acquire it either. In addition, our son could not have his name determined. Only now that my wife and I have ID cards, have we initiated the procedure for challenging the maternity before the court and we hope that once we are registered as the parents of our son, he will be able to finally acquire his citizenship.
Until a few years ago, didn’t have any personal documents either. The birth registries where I was registered were destroyed during the conflict in Kosovo, and my parents did not save my old birth and citizenship certificates. Therefore I couldn’t re-register in a simple way and thus lived without documents for years. However, after a lengthy procedure, I am again registered in birth registries, I obtained birth and citizenship certificates and then an ID card as well.
Our son is 10. He is a good child, he obeys, but mainly if everything is as he wants. Just like other kids, he is not satisfied when he is asked to do something he doesn’t like or he is not good at. He likes playing football the most. He also likes being with me when I go to work.
Actually, the first time we realised how important it is that children have documents, was when our other son got sick. Since he did not have any documents then (he still doesn’t have any), they did not want to take him into the hospital, although he felt very bad. We were forced to wait the whole night in the hospital and finally they took him in. My wife and I have five kids and only the youngest one has personal documents and citizenship. If all our kids had personal documents, we would receive social welfare assistance, which would mean a lot to us. I am the only one who earns in the family, and I can earn just for food and the basic needs. I am afraid that my kids cannot be treated if they fall ill.
I hope he will obtain the documents and go to doctors without any problem, and one day to find a job, because without documents he will not be able to do it. I hope one day we will all have documents and finally be free people.
“I am afraid that my kids cannot be treated if they fall ill”
1 Interview conducted by Praxis Serbia in 2016. The name has been changed to protect the interviewee’s identity. For the main essay by Praxis Serbia please also see Using the CRC to help protect children from statelessness in Serbia in Chapter 8.