A musician and a graduate of marketing and sales management in his native Mali, the 28-year-old Bamba Mohamed Lamine arrived in Bulgaria in 2012. He has applied for a refugee status, works in a call centre for a major international company and sings rap at Sofia clubs.

Why did you choose Bulgaria?

I decided that I would feel more secure in an EU country. I didn’t know anything about Bulgaria at the time.

Have you noticed any special treatment in Bulgaria because you are a foreigner?

When you live in a foreign country, you need to integrate well. To be a good example. True, sometimes you might stumble upon mediocre people. But when you are well integrated, you can avoid problems. I personally haven’t experienced special treatment, because I am a foreigner.

Have you noticed some special Bulgarian trait of the character?

European societies as a whole are more individualistic. People are individualists. Where I am coming from people are more open to one another.

Did Bulgaria surprise you?

There are many elderly people. That surprised me a bit. And the lack of organisation in the refugee camp.

Do you have Bulgarian friends?

Yes, music helped me to find them.

What sort of music do you perform here?

Only the one I have written. Actually, I had to escape Mali because I used to be a DJ and played revolutionary music on the radio, I wrote a song critical of the status quo there. The Bulgarian public likes me, it is a pleasure.

Do you celebrate Bulgarian feasts?

Yes, Baba Marta. Someone told me that this is something typically Bulgarian and explained to me what the rite means. I find it interesting. I like culture and all things related to it attract me.

Do you plan to stay in Bulgaria?

In Bulgaria I discovered that when we live in a safe country, we can achieve our dreams. It is not important that the country is economically strong, what is important is to have the will to fulfil your dreams. With peace and good integration, you can succeed.