A Personal Story
Hamed, at only 21 years of age, is a resilient volunteer translator who welcomes all, refugees and volunteers alike. He makes any place feel like home to those around him. This is his story:
"I was a teacher. I’d been teaching English for five years, since I was only 16, in fact. My own teacher thought that I had potential and was talented enough to start so young. It was a big deal. Teaching is a prestigious job in Afghanistan.
But the armed groups that came to Kunduz did not think teaching English was prestigious. They thought it was blasphemy.
They occupied my city for 16 days. Everyone, including me, fled and took their families to other provinces in Afghanistan, far from Kunduz. When we finally came back, everything was destroyed: hospitals, clinics, schools, bridges, homes.
While we were away, men with guns came to our house. They were looking for the guy who works with the American military forces, my brother, and the other guy who was a teacher, me. They wanted to kill us. Our neighbours took a risk and lied for us. They told the men our family was very poor and that we didn’t have jobs.
The gunmen left to knock on other doors and I knew I had to run.
We travelled from Tehran to Turkey. I was so nervous, because anything can happen. People can rob you, do anything to you. You have no protection under the law.
It was 3am when we arrived close to the border with Turkey. After resting for one night, we left to cross the mountains. We had to walk for three hours and then sleep in the mountains. It was freezing, but we didn’t have a choice.
At 8am the next morning the smugglers told us we had 30 minutes to pass the border. I ran so fast. To be honest with you, I was so exhausted, I could feel pains in my ankles, my feet and legs, all over my body. But I didn’t have a choice, I had to do it. We ran and crossed over the border. Only then, we stopped somewhere to rest.
When I arrived in Istanbul two days later, I didn’t have enough money to pay smugglers to continue on to Europe. I had to find work. Thankfully, a friend from abroad was able to send me some money. After four months of saving, I paid for the boat to cross to Greece.
We arrived on Lesvos, a Greek island just 10 kilometres from the Turkish coast, and were taken to a camp. I met a guy on my second day there who said, “Hey, your English is great, maybe you can translate for us.” I realised quickly that sitting in the camp with nothing to do makes you sick. So I started volunteering.
I don’t know how long I will be in this camp or where I will end up. Maybe I’ll be sent back to Afghanistan. My mind is busy thinking about that too.
But I’m still optimistic. I want to go to France. Paris is a romantic city. Or to Spain because I like Barcelona FC. I want to be safe and free and for my family to have the same.
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