About Refugees, By Refugees

Portrait of refugee Amir hiding his face with a phone

Amir Afghan

Pictures taken in:



Photo and interview by:

Bosnia and Herzegovina



Hannan Dormiyani

“My dream is to continue my education in the future,” says Amir Afghan (pseud, 21). “I want my nation to return back to normal, to be able to return back to my family, or to bring my family close to me.” Having worked for Afghanistan’s former government, Amir was forced to leave after the Taliban took control in 2021. “When someone leaves their country it’s not because of poverty or being miserable,” he says, “It doesn’t mean that our life was bad. Even we had a life.” The journey has been challenging; at one point, their ship sank in the Mediterranean. But he copes thanks to the support of his family: “When anyone is forced to then they can tolerate any situation and manage it to find a better way.” Currently in Bosnia with his brother, sister-in-law, and their kids, Amir looks forward to reaching their final destination: “Whenever we reach our destination will my mind be at ease. According to our dialect, it would be ‘heart assuring.’ The heart would be assured of everything.”

Trigger Warning:

full interview

Amir dear, what type of house are you living in, what type of accommodation do you have?
In an accommodation in the country Bosnia in an immigrant camp.

Can you explain its condition? How is it?
The conditions…every camp has its own rules and the rules here is that they provide a food basket, then they gave us a house, they gave us a room. It doesn’t have good conditions for anyone who wants to live. They just gave us a house and initial stuff, nothing else.

Who do you live with?
With my family; my brother’s wife and their son and daughter.

How do you spend your time here? Do you work?
No, I’m jobless (inaudible) social, in office work and stuff.

Is there something that causes your happiness? What makes you happy?
Well, sometimes I see some immigrants enter the camp, and I become happy that they were able to reach this point (destination). It’s the cause of our happiness.

How has your life been ever since you entered Europe?
Well, I had its good times, as well as difficult times. In some situations, it was good, in some situations it was bad.

Can you explain some of these situations?
Yes, a good situation is that we were able to reach here, this was a good situation. We crossed a few countries and arrives here so that we can move on to the next destination if God wills. As for the bad situations, we, for example in Greece, were in an enclosed camp which was very bad. In Macedonia, we were there for 45 days, it was very bad. The camps were also enclosed. In general, Europe had its bad situations as well for me.

What benefit did you have by staying here?
Well, the benefits were that it’s like a shelter for us, the second being that we were able to reach here which if God wills, we can continue on our journey.

What was difficult for you?
Well, the route to here was difficult because it was really difficult to reach here. It was illegal and there wasn’t any rule to make it easy for us.

Can you explain how living here has made you feel in your mind? What kind of feeling did it create for you?
Well, generally living…that is reaching here and our current place had its difficulties and still has. Then that’s all. It had both negative and positive effects. The negative effect is that we aren’t living in a situation that we should be, like other people living in Europe. We were immigrants, we just have a shelter, that’s all. The positive effects are things like death is no longer a threat to us, we are no longer in danger and we aren’t getting threatened by terrorists here.

Can you explain the feeling you got from living here? I think I asked this before, right?

What feeling did you get by staying away from home or family members?
Well, ah…whatever it’s not, it’s family. It’s really a bad feeling to be away from family and there’s also a good feeling that for example we aren’t threatened by anything bad here. The fact that we have a shelter that itself is good.

The feeling of not belonging here or discrimination against you or others. How had these affected you?
Well, it’s a sense of discrimination because we are discriminated against in our country anyway. We can’t…because there is a question of ethnicity and nationality. This is a feeling of discrimination for us.

Can you explain more?
Yes, because in the country that I’m currently living in now…the whole world knows who came, people with the name of Taliban, international terrorists came that made living conditions really difficult for us, to a great extent, we can’t return back to our country. However, anyone who likes can go back. Well, the situation is really unpleasant for us because I worked for the former government where they worked against and fought terrorists. So, now we cannot return back there.

Did you ever imagine coping with this situation?
Never, because when we were in Afghanistan, we had the best lives, we had safety, there was everything. Well, we never imagined being in such a difficult and hard situation. Then…all this difficult situation was sudden and we…we were forced to leave our home.

How did you overcome this situation or cope with this situation and continue to live?
Well, everything had a rule. The rule for our living conditions is that we were forced. It was because of this force that we were able to reach here and live until now.

Do you think you could overcome these challenges or the skills that you had or did you get strength from somewhere or create a specific mechanism (Amir interrupts) How did you survive?
Well, first it was my strength, second, it was…it was a mechanism then secondly it was the heartwarming of the family, the support of my family.

Can you explain more?
Yes, the family support was more financial and encouragement and has helped us to cope with the situation.

I’m going to ask a few questions related to your past.
Okay, no problem.

Why did you leave your country?
Well, as I explained earlier that I worked in the former government along with the NATO forces. Then, the people with who we were involved are now in power. So, we were forced to leave the country to save my and my family’s lives.

What feeling did you have when this event happened that time?
Well, it was a really bad feeling. Every person likes to live in their own nation, live in their own country. No one likes to tolerate these difficult and hard situations to reach somewhere. No one likes it. Everyone likes to be in their own country. Just like how Europeans like…they have a much better situation than our country. They’re all in Europe and they don’t like to leave their homeland. They like to be in their own country. We also have the same feeling. I like to be in my country but we were forced to leave our country.

How was your journey to Europe?
Well, the journey to Europe had its own challenges and its own benefits. The benefits were that we were able to reach a place, now we are the country Bosnia. This was one of the benefits, but we are threatened with getting deported. The difficulties were that we came from a really difficult route. We almost crossed six countries till we reached here.

Was there an experience that was specifically challenging that you can explain to us?
Yeah, we…Our experience…My experience was that we wanted to go from Turkey to Italy through the Mediterranean Sea and in the Mediterranean Sea or also known as the international waters, our ship sunk. It was one of the worst feelings and one of the worst memories. That’s it.

How did you feel when that happened?
It was really a bad feeling because there were a few people that lost their lives. There was a pregnant woman who lost her life. It was a horrible feeling. Any human would understand that.

Do you often think of these events that happened?
Well, yes sometimes, I think of the difficult times that I experienced along with those who were with me, the fellow travelers who are no longer in this world.

When do you think of these things?
Well, when I watch TV or watch a video on YouTube or see scenes that were very similar to my experience in the past.

Was there anything specific that you often think about?
Yeah, one is leaving the country, we always think of that and the other being the difficult path that we came from we think about these a lot and it has a really bad feeling.

When you think of these, what feeling do you have?
A very unpleasant feeling.

Could you explain more?
Well, the unpleasant feeling is that we are currently in a situation that we shouldn’t have been in. Then we also like to live like how Europeans live. Everyone likes to have a good life. So, this is a bad feeling for a person that has left home.

Has the current situation affected you?
Yes, it has affected me. I already mentioned that it had both positive and negative effects. The negative effects are like sometimes while we were on the way, the people or the police mistreated us. These were really bad effects. There were also positive effects like in some places some people, some police or some organizations helped us. These were some of the positive effects.

Did you ever think that you could manage this situation?
Did you mean…did I ever imagine?

Yes, for example, you can be in the situation and be able to control the situation or have the situation under control.
Yes, because like I said everyone was forced to migrate. When anyone is forced to then they can tolerate any situation and manage it to find a better way. It’s true that it’s difficult but when we have a choice between bad and worse, we choose bad. We don’t choose the worse. This itself is a kind of management.

How did you cope or overcome the situation you were in?
Well, we had a very different situation and we were forced to accept the situation.

Were you able to create a solution, a type of, for example, create a situation for yourself to overcome the hard and difficult memories so that you wouldn’t think about them?
Not really, because we still didn’t reach our final destination. Whenever we reach our destination will my mind be at ease. According to our dialect, it would be “heart assuring.” The heart would be assured of everything. Often when people…Um…has a hobby or work or something to do, then he wouldn’t think of the past. But now we aren’t in a situation where I work or have reached our destination.

Where do you get the strength and support?
Well, our strength and support…a human should always look at his abilities then he should have a supporter. For example, families, friends, relatives, etc.

Before the incident happened, which led to you running away from home. What was your dream? Can you explain to me in such a way that “Before the war, my dream was … this …”? Can you start with this sentence?
Yes, I myself when — (interviewer interrupts)

No, tell me “Before…” (interruption from the interviewer and Amir, inaudible)
“Before immigration what was my dream?”

Yes, no but start with this sentence “Before was my dream was…”
Before the war, my dream was to go to university to continue my education. To improve the work, I had. Then, to live in a better situation, as in to live in a situation in a way that I can change and control. I had a lot of dreams but anyway this happened.

When you left home, what did you wish for the future?
When I left home, I wished to return back to my family, relatives, mum, and dad.

Let me conclude all the questions. Before leaving your country. What do you describe as your strength?
Before leaving the country?

Yes, that time when you wanted to… before leaving the country. What strength (interruption)
The strength was that I had the strength and ability. Secondly, I had a supporter that supported me to reach somewhere safe.

No, this wasn’t what I meant. When you were in Afghanistan, what were the things that made you strong?
I did tell you though —

(Interviewer interrupts: Gave you heart assurance)
I did say, it was the support of the family, and the support of the friends that were my heart’s assurance.

Aha, do you still have them?

How, can you explain?
Well, when —

(Interviewer interrupts: What perspectives did you have?)
Based on the family support perspective, my family still speaks to me, we are still in contact. I can rest assured that my family will support me.

What you experienced seemed really difficult. Do you feel that these experiences have led to your improvement in any way or resulted in something positive?
Not really, because as I said earlier. We aren’t living in a situation that we want, or that we did reach the point where we can control our living situation the way we want.

As of now, what wishes and dreams do you have? May I ask you to start with this sentence, “My dream is …”?
My dream is to continue my education in the future and I God wills I hope to reach my wishes, for example, I want my nation to return back to normal, to be able to return back to my family, or to bring my family close to me. That’s it.

Thank you for responding to the questions. I appreciate it.

Is there anything that you’d like to add to all this information that you told us that would help European people understand the life of the refugees?
Yes, the first is that when someone leaves their country it’s not because of poverty or being miserable that they have decided to leave. It’s right that the Europeans have a really good life no. It doesn’t mean that our life was bad. Even we had a life, even.
We had the feeling that Europeans have. It doesn’t mean that a person who left their country did so because of discrimination or…for them to discriminate between a European and an immigrant. Even we had life, we had everything but what happened was sudden. I want to request the people of Europe to kindly not see everyone as the same. Some people indeed immigrate ‘cause of poverty or (inaudible). Some people immigrate to save themselves from their country. Otherwise, no one likes to leave their home country even if they lived in a small cottage. Even if their house is on the water no one wants or likes to leave their country. Not everyone should be seen as the same and there shouldn’t be any discrimination between refugees for example in Ukraine there is a war, right? Everyone around the world knows that, and most people have become immigrants. It’s true, that in Ukraine the war is almost for six months but in my country, it is around 40 years. My country has been burning for 40 years. There shouldn’t be any discrimination between a Ukrainian immigrant, Iranian immigrant, or Afghani immigrant, just because Ukraine is near Europe and they look the same and have the same skin color. The rule that applies here to us has to apply to the Ukrainians. It shouldn’t be like everything is free for the Ukrainians but for me who is an Afghani and has seen war for 40 years have to tolerate all the difficult situations while the Ukrainians attain things with ease. There shouldn’t be any discrimination between immigrants.

Do you have anything else to say?
Bless you.

Thank you for your time —
(Amir interrupts: Bless you.)

I hope you reach your destination —
( Amir interrupts: If God wills.)

And I hope you see better days.
If God wills, I hope my words reach the European people and other charity organizations that help immigrants and I hope our voices are heard.

Thank you so much. I hope you become successful.
Bless you.

Many 1000 Dreams interviews were not conducted in English. Their translation has not always been performed by professional translators. Despite great efforts to ensure accuracy, there may be errors.