About Refugees, By Refugees

Portrait of refugee Amir holding his daughter

Amir Mahdi Qalandari

Pictures taken in:



Photo and interview by:




Zahra Gardi

Amir Mahdi Qalandari (23) had a dream to “become a singer.” That was before he left his home in Afghanistan, then Iran, where, he says, he faced discrimination because of his ethnicity and religious beliefs. “We felt like we were not human,” he recalls. He is now an asylum seeker living in Greece where, he says, he struggles living in a refugee camp. He often questions himself, “is this the life that I endured all these hardships to achieve?” But he has found strength in his family. “She made me stay strong,” he says, speaking of his daughter. To everyone reading, Amir appeals: “Walk in our shoes for a minute, and suppose that there is war going on in their country, nationalism and discrimination… Then check if we are right or wrong – could we do anything else rather than immigrate?”

Trigger Warning:

full interview

Hi, please introduce yourself, tell us what is your name, your last name, how old are you and where are you from?
Hi … ah … I am Amir Mahdi Qalandari. Then … Ah … My nationality is Afghan. And I was born in Mashhad, Iran and I am 23 years old.

Can you tell us which type of house and where do you live now? How is your condition and tell us about your situation?
We are in Kara Tepe new camp. They transferred us there after the fire in Moria camp. Then we are inside the tents with two-layer fabric in the cold weather. When it rains, the ground gets muddy. I have nothing and all the toilets are mobile. The toilets are very dirty and terrible. It does not have a shower or anything. It is just if we can get a pallet or something to put together and make a room or something like that to get a shower there.

Now what do you do in the cold season having babies? Isn’t it hard for you?
Why not. In cold weather, we bathe our baby with fear. For this, like last night, we put water into a teapot to get a two liters boiled water and pour it into container inside the tent and bath the baby fast in two minutes in way so she does not catch cold.

Yes. She sweats and should not get … pimples, her body should not get blisters. And we quickly cover her with a towel and wrap her and put ten blankets over her so she does not get sick. Now she has caught a cold and we bathed her with fear about what to do. If we do not take a bath, we might feel somewhat and if we take a bath, she catches cold. We have no other options now.

How is your food and feeding condition? Are you satisfied or not?
The food and feeding condition, a good food is somehow like … I don’t think anyone can eat. No one … but those who have had stipend/earning through the cards that UN has given them, do not receive food. Their money comes and they are obliged to bear it somehow. Or else, God knows that I myself don’t feel good when I eat those foods. I have an ulcer problem and whenever I eat food, I vomit.

Now would you tell us who you live with? And how many people are in your tent?
It’s me, my wife and my daughter who is three months old and was born here. Then … ah … they have given us half of the tent. We are on one side of the tent and there is a four-member family on the other side of the tent. There is only one curtain in the middle and no privacy, no nothing.

Now that there is corona, aren’t you worried about the baby?
Yes. There is no sanitation inside the camp in this corona time. If you think that different sanitization rules are considered during this time, no they are not. Everything is public. There is nothing private in Moria, neither here nor in any other camp that exists in Lezbos Island. There is nothing private. And everything is public. And then, during this corona time, if one gets the virus, then everyone else will get it. Now they have appointed some people to put alcohol on our hands. For example, they have appointed three or four people on the other camp which is not really helpful the way it should be. But yes, if they transfer people and give a private place so we can at least live there comfortably. It should be like a house that has a roof and people are not under rain and water and cold weather. There are some people like old women who cannot even use the toilet inside the camp. If they climb the toilet … there is an old woman who has climbed over the toilet and has slid and hit the ground.

Is that very high from the ground?
It is 80 centimeters high. An old woman cannot climb over 80 centimeters and small children also cannot do that. Small kids sit below the toilet and I don’t know what the old women do so … yeah … God knows they don’t know what to do and it’s hard. Even when we go there, although we are adults and when we go there … The toilet’s surface is made of plastic and has a slope and we slide over it because it is wet. The plastic slides and we fall down. Besides being dirty, these are also some of the problems. Then totally … in my opinion … its totally ruined. Such life is not appropriate for human beings at all.

Would you tell me how you spend your time there? During the day? What do you do during the days and nights?
When I wake up in the morning … ah … usually when I get up in the morning, I take a bottle and go to the water reservoir that they have installed there, and pour my bottle. This is to be used for washing the dishes or washing clothes and stuff like that. Then, the lines are crowded and there is not abundant water. A tanker comes and there are four reservoirs. Every 200 to 300 tents have four reservoirs. Then a tanker comes and fills the reservoirs which are, I don’t know, 500 liters or what. Then there are four taps and people get water to wash their dishes and clothes. So that’s what I also do in the morning. And if there is a line for receiving food, I go and take mineral water since I cannot eat the food. Then I take it and come back home. The electricity, for God’s sake, they have installed generators and we have electricity for two hours in the morning and two hours in the afternoon. Then during the night, we have electricity from 5 PM till 4 AM. When the generator breaks or it does not have oil and gas or when the voltage has a problem. The fuse … the fuses are very weak. There are three tea-makers and … they have put eight tents to use one fuse and the fuse is 16. If three tents use the tea-makers at the same time, the fuse will break. With a lot of hardships, we put the tea-maker on electricity so we can drink a cup of tea. Now, put cooking aside. And there are always fights and arguments over electricity among people in the tents. Everyone says you do not plug your tea-maker so that I can plug mine. Then we do it at specific times. We have made a schedule to use the tea-maker with a fuse of 16, among eight tents. There were people who did not obey the rules several times. For example, they all plugged the team-makers in the early morning and the fuse burned twice and it nearly put the tents on fire. Then when they went to fix the wires … when we told the person in charge of the wires inside the camp to change the wires, they said that they will come but it is not clear when they will come. It was until we found some wires from somewhere and connected the wires in a way that it can work and we can have electricity. After that when I come home under the tent, I sit there all day long and all night looking around the tent’s roof, it’s door so it’s color might change, and I have nothing else to do but to go somewhere and pass my spare time. Some go and do exercise and some others walk inside the camp jogging around. I also stay and practice guitar or any other thing. Or me and a group of my friends go and sit somewhere. Previously when it was not quarantined, we could go and sit somewhere uncrowded. There is no proper place inside the camp so we can sit especially now that the weather has got colder. Before that, we could go to a garden or beach or anywhere quite so I could go and practice. Then we would go there. And, besides this, my time passes by going for water to wash the clothes and dishes and I spend my time with the baby. We cannot do anything special inside the camp.

Can you tell me what makes you happy now?
To get out of this hell and go somewhere where we can live in a proper condition and reach the goals that we have in our life. People leave their country with a hope and reach here struggling so hard. They accept the risk and cross the risky roads, mountains, and might be caught by a smuggler or thieves. They get hungry and thirsty and spend the night sleeping over a rock and dust and water. Like us who have slept over dust and inside ruins. There were times that the weather was so cold and we were up on the peak of a mountain without any blanket or warm clothes or anything else. And we tested it seven times before risking our lives by traveling by sea. In the last try, if NATO could not catch us, the water had reached the jibs of our inflatable boat and we would drown. Everyone thought that their lives were over until a speed boat from NATO came and found us with a spotlight or whatever it was and saved us. If they were to find us five minutes late, we would all die and sink in the water. And then when you reach here and think what type of place Europe might be … like you would say, … we have escaped our war-torn countries and from all the calamities that we had. When we came here and saw Moria, we were totally hopeless.

Can you tell me what you thought about Europe before that you are hopeless now?
I thought that Europe was very good. It is a beautiful place. And it is somewhere that people behave with us properly. And it is not like our own countries where human rights are not observed and … hmmm … where human’s dignity and honor are not observed and it is dirty and there is inequality and rigidities. When we came here and saw everything, we thought, “nope”. There is no such a thing. With the conditions that we lived in Moria, we were like prehistoric people living in a tent with a piece of fabric and two blankets. The first time we reached here, we had come by boat and we were all wet and they took us somewhere and gave us two blankets. With two blankets inside a tent. They did not give it to us during the night. We slept on a chair. There is a cinema in Olambia camp in 6th zone or Moria. We slept with only two blankets until tomorrow when I could get a tent. When we woke up the next morning and saw Moria, … then nothing … I was totally hopeless.

Can you tell me that now that you have reached Europe, has your life been easy or hard?
It has been hard. We have forced ourselves to continue, until now.

Have you ever had any good points or not?
The good point was that we have passed the risks that we had in our country or during the way. But there are hardships like being a refugee until today and we have not reached our goal yet. It looks like we are still on our way.

How does living here affect your feelings? Or has it ever affected your feelings or not?
Totally. There are a lot of people here who are depressed. I was the same as well. The first time that I came here, I had a different perspective about Europe. Before that in 2015 and 2016, many people that have come here … I had come before too but Iranians caught me on Turkey’s border and they took me from one outpost to another and from one camp to another, for two months. Then they deported me to Afghanistan. Then, I didn’t have the chance to come here. I had some problems then. But this time we came … I was alone the previous time but I had my wife this time. We came here and when I saw the situations I was totally hopeless on the third and fourth day here. I was totally hopeless and committed suicide once. Until two of my friends found me then took me from under my arms and went to Kotrenus and stitched my wrist. After that my wife did the same and both of us …

What was your feeling at the time you decided to kill yourself?
We were hopeless in our lives and did not think the situation would be this worse here. If we knew that the situation is this way here, we would even have come in the first place.

Now you are with your parents here or not?
No, my parents are in Afghanistan … My mother is in Herat. In 2004, there was an area by the name of Jebrael in Herat where Hazaras lived. Most of the people who would get deported from Iran, especially our people, because they could not go anywhere far, when they would leave Iran and pass Dagharan border in Islam-qala, they would come to Herat. There, everyone that would get deported, came together in an area that slowly changed to a place where Hazaras would live in Herat. Because there are fewer Hazaras in Herat. Then everyone would settle there. It was a small city but slowly got bigger. Then it totally changed to a Hazara area. Then there is a shrine there and around the shrine were covered by mine. I myself would go to school by bicycle and didn’t know there were mine everywhere. I was a little child and was not old enough. I was either eight or nine years old. I was crossing that area until someone ran towards me and called me to go to the other side because there are land mines there. I was just a child and rode my bicycle. Then he told me if I see the stones colored in red which shows that it is a mine field and has not been cleared yet. There was a shrine there and around the shrine was the same. And my mother crossed one of those mines and lost her life in those fields. And in that case … for me who was only a small kid … I had totally lost myself. I wasn’t myself for two or three weeks. There was my younger sister who got mental problems due to the pressure that she had encountered. She now gets hysteric attacks because of experiencing such pressure. I have two sisters and my smaller sister was around one and a half years old. Then I raised her. And it turned out that with a lot of hardships, I found a way to go back to Iran. And again, we collected our belongings and sold everything we had to go back to Mashhad and never come back to Afghanistan because we had the worst memory from Afghanistan. And that is what happened.

You were born in Iran right?

Now Iran is like your own homeland because you have grown up there right? You had learned the language and grew with those people. So when you were leaving your home in Iran to come here, how was it for you? Was it easy or hard? Tell us about your feelings that time.
Yes. It was very hard. It was where I had grown up. Although people say that you are an Afghan and Iran is not your country, you are an Afghan and you need to go back to Afghanistan. We went to Afghanistan and tested our chances that we might make a better life in Afghanistan. We went there and started school at Herat high school. Their accent was Afghani especially that they were speaking with a pure Herati accent. We could not understand whatever they would teach us in public school. It was until I went to a private non-government school. There, the people were from our own nationality and all were Hazaras and I could have understood what they said because some of them were also like us who had been to Iran somewhat or were born there. I could understand their language. It was the same Afghani book that we studied but we could understand their accent. For example, those who were Herati and the teachers that had Herati accent, we could understand nothing. When I would come back from school, I would tell my father that I cannot understand a word of what they say. I could not understand the accent. It was better in the area where we were living but inside Herat’s city people would tell us that we are speaking Iranian language. Because we did not have the same accent as them. They would make fun of us when we were talking. It was our own land, the land of our grandparents and ancestors. Whatever happened there made us collect our belongings and come back to Iran. When we went to Iran, they did not give us proper documents and these things happened. They don’t really care about us there.

In Iran they do not behave properly with immigrants let alone when you are an Afghan.
If it wasn’t for their behavior here [in Afghanistan], we would not go to Iran in order to come here. Even if 100 generations of our people live there, we will still be called Afghani and if you go back to your own country you will be Irani-gag. Now we are in a state that has no country. But whatever, we think that Afghanistan is our country. Iran has been my birthplace. It is a place where I have grown up, got used to its culture and traditions.

Can you tell if you would think of the incidents that you have faced so far? And whether you will be able to overcome these problems, bear the situation in Moria? Would you ever think about it?
No, not really. I was thinking that it would be the same as when it was in 2015 and 2016. I had come here once and I thought that we would pass Iran’s border in only one night. There is no guarantee in human trafficking. It is like you take your life into your hands and cross the borders. You might pass the borders in the first try but you may also not cross it for the tenth time and they may catch you and deport you. This time that we came, it was easier from Iran to Turkey compared to Turkey to Greece because they would say that the smuggler is very experienced and good. We have given more money than others or they took more money from us because they said they guarantee our safety and things like that. But still, we passed all the hardships of walking through the mountains and canyons. There were three families who had small kids. There was a woman with us who had five kids and I was wondering how she is supposed to take care of them. On those roads, everyone was concerned for themselves and when we were coming, we were running in a way like … there was a 50 years old woman running to escape and save her life. Because they were shooting in the air. I don’t know whether they were shooting the air or the ground but the voices were horrible and everyone was horrified. The family who had a lot of children and since the children were crying, they could not even come and remained behind. And the rest of us ran and put threw inside the car so we can pass. We didn’t think this might happen. We were thinking that we may spend only one or two months of travel and then we will reach our target country. My cousins are in Germany and Sweden. We thought that we might reach those countries in two or three months and had never thought that we might spend one month in Turkish camps. The camps in Turkey are no better than the camps here. There were 1500 people in three camps with only four toilets. It also did not have good food and everyone got sick there. We remained in Turkey for four months … three and half months. We tried seven times to reach Greece. Then we were thinking that this is a gate and we can easily pass through it and go to whatever country we want. Like in 2015, but we came and saw that it is like a bog here. You get stuck here and drown further as much longer as you stay.

Can you tell me that the hardships that you came over in your life, have added to your skills and abilities? Or you used to have the abilities that you have now?
I had them in the past and the environment in Iran was in a way … I used to work in Herat and in Mashhad. I had some friends in Tehran. I actually do not know much about Tehran but I was working there and was familiar with the environment. I almost had more opportunities there. But that is not our own country and there is no one to support us or … hmm … when an Afghan comes to Iran, they cannot get anywhere. In Afghanistan, there is also not a good situation and I don’t think anyone can make progress there either.

There is no security there.
Yes, there is no security. If there is anyone who has got a good condition, he might be able to do something. But there is no security. In Kabul, when you walk on the streets for two minutes, you may or may not come back home alive. It is that we have become stronger now.

Has the corona virus affected your daily life or not?
It has totally ruined the earth. The whole earth is struggling with it. And even if we sit in front of our tent, they tell us to wear a mask. They have even written a note asking us to wear our masks inside the tents too. Now if we want to eat something we have to remove it. They themselves don’t care about it and when they go inside the city they don’t even wear a face mask.

How about mentally and has it affected your feelings?
Everything is quarantined and we can’t go anywhere and breathe fresh air.

Especially in your camp. I think it is totally quarantined.
Yes, it is totally quarantined. We have hardly made it for the MSF program today and to visit a doctor. Or else I could not dare to come out.

In this part, I am going to ask questions about your past. Feel free to not answer if you think you can’t or don’t want to. Would you please tell us what made you immigrate and leave your own country?
hmm … one reason is that my beliefs changed five years ago. And in Afghanistan, if one rejects Islam, they will become apostate and will be called infidel from the beginning. There, my beliefs changed after six months. I joined associations and Facebook groups. I was among people who were everywhere in the world. They were also in Herat. Maybe my neighbor was also one of them. I don’t know. I check the media to find where they are. It was a big group and we would sit there and debate and talk. Then I read books that changed my beliefs about Islam. I converted and became agnostic. Then I received a lot of threatening messages from the Taliban. They would message me on Facebook and tell me that they will kill me if they catch me. Things like this. I was not careful and didn’t think these things might be risky or very serious and these people are so prejudiced. I had my own photos in my Facebook account and everything. I had it for a long time and it had been 6 to 7 years that I was using this account. My photo was on my Facebook and in several groups. Three to four people would come and threaten me. There was one of my friends who was also living in the same area. If Pashtun people who are more prejudiced or Tajiks and other people caught them, they would immediately kill them. But the people who beat them were from our own area. They were just trying to threaten or punish us. They had beaten him very hard and had broken his legs and hands. I didn’t know about his health for two weeks and he came out of hospital after two weeks. Then he told me to take care inside the group and remove my photos from social media. When I asked him what had happened, he told me that some people had caught him while he was on his motorbike riding to work. They had caught him and told him to go with them because someone needs to see you. Those people’s heads were covered and took him in ruin and beat him so hard. They had beaten him to death and … ahm … his relatives called him on his phone and found him somehow and took him to the hospital. He was hospitalized for two weeks and came back home after. Then he warned me to take care so they can’t find me and I should remove my pictures from social media. I was very afraid and removed my photos as much as I could. But my photos were still there and the opponents that would send messages on my Facebook had definitely saved my photos. On Facebook, one cannot figure out which friend is from where. Either it is your neighbor to your left or right or the one in front of your house, or they might be in another corner of the world, in the U.S. or Italy. You cannot identify. But when I saw that this friend of mine has faced such a problem, I thought that the same might happen to me as well. I was one of the active members and from the other side, it was the place that mother was killed. They caught us on Turkey’s border and deported us to Herat. I didn’t like that area at all. When I went there, I changed my house and moved seven or eight quarters above. We moved into the center of Herat close to Jameh Mosque of Herat. We were there. Then something happened to me there and there was another reason too. My beliefs changed and I was getting more threats. Some other issues also happened. I couldn’t go to work. Because it is a place with highly conservative people and a lot of discrimination. If you go and work somewhere and do not do your afternoon prayers, they will call you infidel and will not let you eat with them at one table. They also fire you from work.

So you mostly felt that your life was in danger right?
Yes. It was about getting killed too. And all those incidents occurred so my father told me to leave. I was both deported from getting to Europe and living in a place where that incident had happened to my mom. Plus, the threats that I received after I changed my beliefs. Totally, the situation was in a way that my father would tell me everyday to go and leave the country. Or else, I had newly decided to join the national military and serve my country but my father did not let me do that. I told him that I will not go back to Iran but then something happened. Although I was not disturbed in Iran but then I was forced to and my father sent me to Iran. In Iran, I met my wife who was my girlfriend at that time. Our families did not agree with this relationship and due to some behavioral problems, her mother and sister were grouching. I could not come to terms with them. They had imprisoned my wife in their house and were searching for me. Then she escaped from her house and I was living alone. Then we escaped with the only clothes we had and went to Tehran. In Tehran we searched for this and that and reached Turkey with a lot of hardships. After Turkey, we came here and many things happened along the way which is a long story. It was all a headache from the beginning till the end.

Tell me about your feelings from the time you decided to, when you slept at night and woke up in the morning and decided to come here. What were your feelings then? Were you afraid? Were you stressed to go somewhere where you do not know the language and culture and you don’t even know anything about that country?
Why not. I would say I have a lot of memories from the place I have grown up, lived and got used to. If I leave here and go there, is a better life waiting for me or not? There is a saying that says “drum’s voice is beautiful from afar” and so many other people have gone there. They are both satisfied and dissatisfied. But they would say I better go with the situation that I had and I was forced to leave. If I was not obliged to, I wouldn’t even come here. I didn’t have the same feeling of love for Europe as I had in my previous trip. But since I was really forced to then …

It means that you had to choose between bad and worse?
I was forced to.

Would you tell me about your and your wife’s trip to Europe? Do you have any bitter memories that you may remember when you want to sleep at night or any memory that you would like to tell us about?
The time that I was about to drown in the sea, comes to my dreams some nights and another night when they had taken us alone because our houses were covered with mud. They took us and told us to take all the men in one car and the women in the other. When they took us … the smugglers were trying to put us into the boat by force. Then we asked where our wives were. And they told us that they are coming. You should get on the boat and they are coming. They forced us to ride the boat because they had pointed their guns over our heads. It was there that … it was me and two of my friends and we argued with them. Although they had guns, they needed our money. Although if they were to kill us, no one would come to help us. But we did something to threaten them. We threatened them with gendarme police and told them if our relatives don’t get any news from us within half an hour and if we don’t reach our target in half an hour, they will call gendarmes and tell them you have not taken us to where we are supposed to be. We threatened them so they let us remain in that spot. Then they said that our families would come but they did not come that night. We remained in a spot in the jungle without water or food. We had all our belongings with us but food. We spent three nights inside the jungles in the Zeiton area. Our phones had also turned off and we didn’t know where they were and they didn’t know where we were. We didn’t know at all until a smuggler came and one of them was Afghan to whom we talked and convinced him to plug our phones into charge so we can get to know what has happened. Until we charge our phones to know what is happening, we figured out that they have not moved them from their place and they are walking down the streets doing nothing. They would sleep in one street and the police might come and move them to another area. One hour in one street and one hour in another street. The smugglers hadn’t taken them anywhere. In Turkey, I had a fight with three Turks who hit me in the face and broke my head. I got five stitches. And there were firing on the border too. I have a lot of bad memories and don’t know which one to tell you.

What are your feelings when you remember those memories?
What can I say. I have done a lot of things to reach here and found nothing when we reached here.

Can you tell us more about your feelings? Do you get sad for those who have not experienced these things? Or do you get happy or get stressed? Do you get depressed?
One gets depressed. What was our fate that led us to this way? They have risked their lives to come here and reach a better life. So they follow their dreams and goals. But when they get here … risking their lives … the dangers of the way … they flee their own countries. They escape the country where they are born, like Iran. They are displaced, wandering around the streets and deserts. They hope to go somewhere to have a better life but when they reach here. They are like, no, there is nothing.

The incidents that you told me that pop up in your head, when do these memories mostly come into your mind and how often?
During the nights. Actually, the time that one does not know what to do and what to not do, and when they don’t have anything to do, neither they can follow their dreams nor they have the opportunities, and when they continuously look around the house and find out that people live like prehistoric era, they ask “is this the life that I endured all the hardships to achieve?”.

What do you do to forget your memories and get rid of them?
I read books, practice guitar, and write poems. I try to find something to keep me busy so I don’t think of my memories and get them out of my mind.

What was your hope for the future when you were a child?
To become a singer. Stand on a stage haha.

How about the time you wanted to immigrate? What was your wish for the future at that time? </i
It was the same that time too but to reach a better place and a country that is appropriate for living. A country which is not a warzone like Afghanistan. A country where there is no racism, discrimination, like Iran. When a child wants to go to school and when they make you leave the class in the middle of the lesson because your card has not been extended. And you will lag behind in your studies and miss some tests. And they don’t give you your result card. They get your father, your family, your uncle from the street just because you are an Afghan. Then they would send you somewhere to check if your card has been extended or not. And when they took us there, they would thoroughly look into your card and find that it has not been extended from a higher authority. It is not even related. If you do not extend it yourself, then why do you take us to immigration affairs? They would take us and release us and would take us again and release. They would harass us even if we had the card and when we did not have it.

Wouldn’t you get mud that time? When they were sending you from one office and to another and were bothering you?
We were thinking that we are aliens and we have come from another place. We felt like we were not human. The people that we have grown together with who were also Iranians, we would think that we are very different from them. When I was a child, I was thinking where have I come from? Have I come from another planet? They behave with us differently.

Would you think with yourself that you will be able to endure this situation?

What do you think, how have the incidents that you have overcome so far, affected your personality? What differences do you see comparing your personality before immigrating here and now?
Maybe I was happier before and had more energy. One gets more hopeless and depressed when passing all these hard times. The situations affect us a little bit. Not less but very much.

One big thing has happened in your life is that you are a father with more responsibilities now. So how do you feel now?
She has made me stay strong. It was very hard before my daughter was born. Now I try to spend more time with my daughter and get busy with her. The conditions are really hard here and we cannot nurture our child the way we should. It is cold. We neither know what to do in hot seasons nor do we know what do to in cold seasons. We cannot take her outside or in front of the fan when it is hot. Because she is just a small baby and might catch cold and get sick. And in cold weather, we don’t know how to keep her warm. In a tent that only has three layers’ fabric. There is no wall at all. It is not a closed place. It has neither a door nor a body. People catch cold and get sick. How should I say it … we are forced to just pass our time.

Now I am done with my questions. There are people who have not experienced your condition and they will read and hear your story, for those who do not know about immigration or there are people who can do something for refugees. Do you have anything to tell them? Any advice for anyone who reads your story? You can use this time.
My request and advice is … I want to ask them to understand and feel our condition. Walk in our shoes for a minute and suppose that there is war going on in their country, nationalism and discrimination. For whatever reason. Civil war. Our enemy is at least known in external war. For example, two countries are beside each other or far from each other and fight face to face. But civil war is something where you do not know who is your ally and who is your opponent. Suppose that each group is against each other in your country and nationalism and racism are going on. You do not know who is your friend and who is your enemy. You are walking on the street and someone comes beside you and explodes himself. You may lose your life there or your friends and relatives or your family members. The point is that Afghanistan has such a condition. They should think that their country is insecure and there is war there. And then they are forced to flee their country, where they were born, grew up, and have lived many generations. But then they need to go to another country. When they go to another country and if it is a good country where human rights are observed there, then it is good. If not, what then? If they do not behave with you like a human or if they do not behave with you like a refugee, what then? Like a … how should I say it? Like Iranians who behave with Afghans in Iran. They behave as if they are not human. Right, there is war in their country and they have immigrated to Iran. But from a humanitarian perspective, they do not respect them as human beings nor do they give them any facilities. It was until some years ago that they were not giving us Sim-cards just because we were Afghan. You cannot get a driver’s license in Iran. You cannot get a proper education if you want to study there. You cannot study the fields that you like to study. There are limited majors to study. Let alone getting a diploma/certificate. They always check our documents and check if we have any card or not. They also get money for those cards. Now that the price for that card has increased, people cannot afford to get it in this corona time where no one has a job or income. They should walk in our shoes and think that a war is going on in their country and they are displaced into another country. They might not behave with them like a human. They should think of living our life for a moment. Then check if we are right or wrong or could we do anything else rather than immigrate? Think this way for a minute.

Thanks for giving us your time and goodbye.

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.