These stories will introduce you to refugees we worked with in the Greek camps. We are following their journey and to let them know they have not been forgotten.
AS – 22 year old, single man from Afghanistan
Met AS in Lesvos, Greece where we worked together. He showed us the seven badges he had for each NGO he was a volunteer (ie. R4R, Watershed, Red Cross, etc.). It is in AS’s nature to always be busy and helpful to others.
AS left Afghanistan when he was 14. His journey over the past eight years has been a difficult one. And yet, he brings a smile and warmth to all he knows.
His first stop was Iran. His second stop was Turkey. After 18 months he paid 2,000 euros to a smuggler to take a life raft across the Agean Sea. He was in Greece for a few years before he was granted asylum. Living in Greece is very difficult for a refugee, even after getting asylum. Once he got his legal papers from Greece, he left for Germany. Since his arrival, he has lived in three camps during the past 20 months.
In the current camp, AS has a small room that he shares. They must buy their own food and cook in a kitchen with 30 others. He has taken German language classes and has passed the first two levels. He states it will take over a year to complete the third level.
His roommate came with him and recently was approved for residency. AS hasn’t even had his interview. He cannot afford an attorney which costs 2,000 euros. Some days he works three to four hours at a manufacturing plant. He never knows when they will call him to work. He needs to take a bus and a train to get into city center. Round trip tickets cost 20 euros. When he works, AS sends money home to his mother and younger brother in Afghanistan who are without support.
AS fixed a huge Afghani meal for us when we arrived. A friend in town lets him use his small cottage so we sat outside in front of the vegetable garden. It was an epicurean delight. After the meal we went inside and had tea. He brought in the outdoor fire into the cottage to keep us toasty.
AS is easy going and has a big smile. What we admire most is his resilience and his essence to be helpful to all. He waits to hear from immigration yet says there are so many from Ukraine now, he doesn’t know when he will hear. So for now, he knows he must wait.
Tama and Cathy, Hands on Global, reporting from the road.