About Refugees, By Refugees

Portrait of refugee Habib holding his daughter in his arms

Habib Nawruzi

Pictures taken in:



Photo and interview by:

Bosnia and Herzegovina



Elsayed Elsehemy Abdelhamid

“My dream is a good life,” says Habib Nawruzi (26) from Afghanistan. “Good life for me, for my family, for me, a good life.” Habib, who lives in a refugee camp in Bosnia and Herzegovina, first fled the Taliban in 2015. After reaching Europe but being deported, he left Afghanistan again in 2019. “I am a Muslim Shia. Shia a big problem in Afghanistan,” he explains. “It’s long time, it’s seven years I am refugee, I go in the country and that country.” He says he doesn’t feel good when he thinks of people back home who are without jobs and food. But connecting with his family, who have since moved to Iran, is helpful. “When we’re calling and talking with them it’s good,” he says. “I have my family. It’s good for me.” Habib says he dreams of going to school and becoming a mechanic one day. But he also dreams of school for someone else – his 18-month-old daughter, who was born in a refugee camp in Greece. “We see what … I can do,” he says. “I want everything good for this girl.”

Trigger Warning: Violence/murder; religious discrimination

full interview

And if I ask you any question and you, you prefer not to answer you can, you just tell me … you just skip it. No problem.

So can you tell me who you are? Generally, who’s Habib? How old are you?
I’m 26 years old.

You’re 26?

When, when did you leave Afghanistan?

And what was the reason?
I gone to, and Turkey and Greece and Albania, Kosovo, Serbia and now [inaudible].

And why you left Afghanistan?
Because in Afghanistan, the Taliban killed me and other people because we are — so don’t like, we Taliban like, yeah, it is the relevant problem, you know?

I am a Muslim Shia. Shia a big problem in Afghanistan because the Daesh and Talib, they’re killing the Shia Muslim. For that I left Afghanistan.

And this was 2019?
Yeah. Yeah, I left, yeah 2019, I left Afghanistan.

You said you’ve been to Austria three years?
Yes, I lived there 2015.

So you’ve left first 2015?
Yes, the first one 2015, I coming here and they going to Austria and three years in Austria I was —

What happened in 2015? The first time, why did you leave?
Just like now, the problem, this problem, the Taliban and Daesh.

The same problem?
Yeah the same.

And because you are Muslim Shia.
Yes, yes.

Yeah. And did you have the same problem before, before 2015?
Before the — wasn’t that problem because I cannot go to school and cannot go in the other city because the Taliban was everything, checking you are Sunni or Shia, where you’re going, you are —

You mean, you couldn’t go to the school because you are a Muslim Shia?
Yes. Because the — the school, Taliban making the bomb and killing the children.

So, first time you decided to leave was 2015 and it was because you, you couldn’t go to the school?
Yeah, for that problem I cannot go into school. I so anxious for day, every day, I can’t go outside because everything in this bomb and [inaudible] every day or so that — because I going to a school one hour, two hour, around one hour, two hour to foot.

Yeah, one hour, two?
One, two hour to foot.

To foot? Ah, on foot, you mean, you walk for two hours.
Yes, and that wasn’t the Taliban everyday checking where you’re going, and, “School is for kafir”, and like we saw that when I left the school because the Taliban don’t like me going to school.

Because you are—
Because I’m a Shia Hazara.

Shia Hazara. And your family as well. Where is your family?
My family is now in Iran.

In Iran?

All of them left Afghanistan because of — and how do you feel when you think about your family when they—
It’s not good. I feel very bad because the problem, everything I think what we’re doing is problem. The Iran, Iran is a big problem with refugees.

Iran has big problem with refugees.
Yeah, because refugees cannot take a SIM card, go any school, only working or eating, they cannot refugees reality, they don’t have in Iran. The problem it’s a little bit of Afghanistan.

Yeah, same, you mean, like the lifestyle?
Yes, it’s little safe.

But when, when you think about when you left in 2015 and in 2019. How, how you were feeling back then because you left the country?
Yeah I feel bad because we cannot myself country live in, stay. It is for every people not good. It’s cannot stay when you cannot here stay on living, there’s most going, this is not good. I feel very — every people feeling not very good.

Yeah. And when you — so you first time you went to Austria, you said?
I come from just like now.

Oh, last time? 2015?
I come from [inaudible] UN, bus from [inaudible] to German, state by state. Serbia changed the bus into Bosnia on slow and bus change this was — or don’t want money or so.

But why your refugee status was rejected?
I don’t think that’s the problem from the asylum service you know.

Asylum service?
Yeah, I told them I have problem. Not only me, they, I — she did too much people like me.

Too much people are being deported, you mean?
Yeah, deported and rejected from Austria. Austria [inaudible] is very — not very good. Only for families go there for [inaudible] is not good.

And how — how was your feelings when you were deported?
Well, I feeling not very good because the Afghanistan is the problem are not working and not safe. I’m feeling very bad and for that, I can —

Yeah, you told me, [inaudible] Rahel? Name. Her name. So your daughter is called Rahel, right?
Rahel Nawruzi.

Rahel Nawruzi, how old is she?
One year, six months.

One year, six months.

Where she was born? Where?
In Greece.

In Greece? In Greece in a refugee camp or a normal house or?
In refugee camp. In camp, in camp.

Do you remember how she was born? The conditions were — was it difficult for you? Was it easy for her mother? Because it’s not—
Not easy because this was first one baby. This not easy. Was difficult. Yeah, we’re making so the problem going stable. It was not very good because the first one baby little difficult. But it was in Greece and Greece, only they has not good food and—

The houses are not good. Were not good where you are staying? The houses were not good—
In Greece? Yeah, Greece not good because, they have too much problem. Like, because they don’t have the [inaudible] condition and in this time need [inaudible] the winter [inaudible], so. Because they don’t have doctors, don’t have good food and everything not good in Greece.

So did your wife face problems with the birth because of the refugee and being in Greece?
Yes. Because there’s too much problem, I think. We don’t have in this time, ID [inaudible] because the [inaudible], Red Cross. They have [inaudible].

An emergency?
Yeah. We cannot go in the hospital.

You can’t go to the hospital?
Because, yeah, because this time we don’t have [inaudible].

Yeah. You don’t have — what is this, the ID, you mean?
Yeah. The ID, you can’t go into hospital.

Maybe that’s why she was born in the refugee camp in Greece. And then why you did call her Rahel? You said, what is the meaning of Rahel, the name?
The name Rahel is the refugee’s — say, refugees [inaudible].

Yeah, refugee [inaudible]. A global refugee.
Like a refugee’s daughter. Like, so, I mean, I think this good and Rahel means—

But you mean, yeah, I know Rahel in Arabic as well and not only version means like people who are leaving, refugees who are leaving but you called her this because she was born in a refugee camp or?
Yes, we are refugees now getting this country to other country like [inaudible] who cannot stay in one place.

Yeah, do you have dreams for Rahel?

Do you have dreams? Like, what you want for Rahel, what you want to achieve for her, what you want for her future?
Yes, I want for this everything good. We see what we can I do. I want everything good for this girl, is she going to a school.

Yes then everything is — like engineer or a doctor, what she want.

What you mean, general doctor, you want for her to be a doctor? What your dream for her, what you want for her, to achieve for her?
I want this everything good. Well I don’t know now because after a week, she wants to say what she wants, what she do. I cannot now say—

You cannot — but what about you yourself? What is your dream yourself?
Yes, I want to go in electric mechanic because I have — I understand because little [inaudible] [speaking Farsi].

So you were saying you want to be a mechanical engineer?
Yeah, mechanical — electric mechanic because I like that job.

Why you want to be a mechanical engineer?
In Germany.

In Germany.
Yes, I want to learn in school and find a job. Yeah, as a mechanic.

And what do you want for your family?
I want for my family everything good but I can’t make for my family. I make that, you know, after what passing, I make everything good and I—

Yeah, what is your dream for yourself? Your dream can you say, “My dream is…”
My dream is a good life. Good life for me, for my family, for me, a good life. But the life I lived in my country because—

Different from the life you lived?
Yeah, not the life — my life is not good because I’m not safe and not good in my country. This side, I want everything because I don’t save, not good in my country and this side, I want everything for my life good.

And when you think about Afghanistan now, when you are in Bosnia going somewhere else, what do you feel?
Well, I, I feel not good because in my country, everything these people that don’t have food, don’t have jobs, don’t have money and everything for that. The people dead and because everything fighting the Taliban, Daesh, and other. Afghanistan now is big problem, all people don’t have food for morning, for night, for all Afghan not very good. I’m here. I think every time for that in Afghanistan. The people, I see the video on the media, everything very bad in Afghanistan now.

And do you communicate with your family, call them in Iran?
Yes. I call them in the week one time, two time, speaking with my family.

And how do you feel when you call them and you can’t be with them?
When we’re calling and talking with them it’s good. Everything — I have my family. It’s good for me.

Do you feel sad that you can’t be with them? How do you feel when you can’t be with them? Your family in Iran.
It’s good and not good because when I’m speaking with my family as I have my family, it’s good. She cannot doing with school or working. It’s problem for life.

You have sisters?
Yes. I have two sisters.

And one brother?
One brother, yes.

And they as well, in Iran, they can’t go to school and they don’t have jobs?
Don’t have jobs, cannot go into the school and cannot take a SIM card from the [crosstalk]—

Because you don’t have ID?
ID, they don’t give them the ID in Iran.

So what’s your dream for your family in Iran? What do you want for them?
I want everything good. I hope what the good left, and for everything. We—

Are you comfortable in this car? Do you like it here or you want to move?
I move. I cannot here stay because here—

You can’t stay here?
Now, it’s good but for dream is not good. I cannot here get a job, learning, for that, here not very good.

But now you have been out of Afghanistan since 2015, right?

And it’s now it’s almost seven or eight years. How — and which is long time somehow, how do you keep trying?
It’s long time, it’s seven years I am refugee, I go in the country and that country.

Yeah. It’s not good for me. I must so I cannot stay in Afghanistan or other countries. The country give me an ID or something, it’s good. But not if having ID, my child can’t go in this school. It’s not good.

When Rahel should go to school? When?
Five years? Three years.

Three years. Do you have dreams for her school? To give her good education?
Yes I give her a good education or something, she learn a good school what she likes.

What she likes. Yeah. And when you was in Afghanistan, when you were in Afghanistan, did you have certain dreams you remember? In Afghanistan back then, did you want something?
I don’t understand.

While you were in Afghanistan, before you leave, did you want to leave Afghanistan already? Did you have any dreams? Yeah, we will finish now.
Yeah, because she don’t stay here.

Yeah, I think. Do you want to add anything more for me? What we said to add anything?
My English is not very good because for that I cannot very good speaking, talking because I cannot too much.

Express so much.

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.