Recently, Maverick Youth became acquainted with the literal representation of a maverick. Farhad is one of the hundreds of thousands of refugees that made the perilous journey to seek asylum in the European Union. He left his home in Afghanistan and traveled close to 7,000 kilometers, travelling through seven different countries to get to Germany where he has now obtained his papers for the European Union. His journey embodies the struggle and pain every refugee endures. Here is his story.
By the name of Allah.
This is how my journey towards Germany began.
When my father was teaching in a school in Afghanistan, some of his students were interested in pursuing pharmaceutical studies and asked my father to teach them English. Teaching English wasn’t allowed by the Taliban, so after some time, they began to become suspicious of my father. After a week, some Talibs came into my father’s class and asked a student to tell my father to say a sentence in English. That was the second mistake my father made against the wild animals they call the Taliban. My father ‘disappeared’. And, the next day someone reported that they found his body. I was only two years old; I was a kid, and I didn’t know anything.
Due to security challenges in Afghanistan, I planned to journey towards Germany, although a lot of my friends and folks told me, “You may die on the way.” They even tried to tell me the exact percentage of people dying on the journey, which was 90 percent. They told me, “You may be beaten by border police and be thrown into prison for years. You may even rot in prison.” They told me that because of my illegal journey, the prison may not provide me with food, and I may die. Another relative told me that the Kurdish people could break my leg as a torturous punishment for trespassing.
My mother was very scared for me. She cried all day for me and told me she couldn’t sacrifice me the way my father did. She told me that since I was her only son, she didn’t have anyone else in this world. I cried as well, but not in front of her. So I went outside of Kabul for the first time to Mazar-e-Sharif. The smuggler made a mistake while making my fake passport. He mistakenly wrote my age down as 18 rather than 21, which is the age required for an Iranian visa. So I went several times to the Iranian Embassy after an interview. I couldn’t get the visa so I had to wait in Mazar-e-Sharif.
After about 21 days, I finally tried to go back to Kabul. The smuggler told me, “Give me one more chance, I will provide you with a visa tomorrow.” The next day, the smuggler called and said, “Come to the Embassy,” where he gave me an envelope. He told me not to open it when I gave it to the Iranian in charge of interviews. Without any questions, the Iranian gave me the papers to test my blood. After testing my blood, he gave me a provisional visa, so I flew from Mazar-e-Sharif to Iran. The smuggler told me to call him when I reached Iran, so that he could give me instructions.
When I called him, he told me to wait for about one hour for someone to come and pick me up. I waited for that person; he was from Iran, and he took me to a beautiful garden. I thought I would relax in this garden, but we continued to walk. Then, he opened a basement door, and I asked what I was to do in there. When I entered, there were 250 boys and terrible smells because the toilet was nearby. One piece of bread every 24 hours wasn’t enough for us, so we had to buy one biscuit, which was $10, and one bottle of mineral water, which cost us about $5. I was kept in that basement for about three days.
I missed sun rays during the three days in the basement. I missed the sun and couldn’t see well outside because we had been without light in the darkness. Everyone used their own hands to cover their eyes and when we came out of the basement. The man, who was responsible for us, suddenly chose five of us and put us in a trunk. I told him I would suffocate in the trunk, so he kicked me twice and so I put myself in the trunk. We were in the trunk for about 14 hours and these were overbearing moments for me. When I got out of the trunk, I couldn’t feel my legs or my hands at all. My spine was burning. I needed a moment to catch my breath.
After that, we spent the night in a Kurdish house, and in the morning the man came and moved us to a house that was close to a mountain. I did not know anything about those deadly mountains. A woman cooked some food for us. At 9:00 PM, we started walking to the hills. Slowly, the hills turned into mountains. I had three pairs of jeans, four t-shirts, one pair of extra shoes, gloves, and a cap with me in my bag. I was full of energy for what seemed like the first fifty hours in those deadly mountains.
I walked fast and continued on my indefatigable way. We spent 13 more hours on the mountain and I was very thirsty. So I asked the smuggler – who was a shepherd and knew the directions towards Turkey – for water. He lied and told me that after two hours of walking there would be a fountain; then after two hours, he said three hours. I was ultimately dehydrated, but with lots of trouble, we reached the other mountain where there was a mountain police base. Thirsty, I looked for water but couldn’t find anything except the remains of horses and donkeys, which had fallen ill in the mountains. I looked everywhere but I couldn’t find any water except the frozen snow. I had to drink water from frozen snow. I ate lots of snow and I put some snow in my bottle. I was so happy that I could finally find water. I put the bottle in front of the Sun rays, which melted the snow, but I saw that the bottle was filled with mud and water – I couldn’t see even a little bit of clear water, as it was all mixed with mud.
Our journey started once again, and the food in my bag was about to finish, so I wondered what should I do when that happens as we still had to walk across all the mountains? We started walking again, and finally we found something like a fountain. I drank lots of water and we spent almost 26 hours walking in that direction. It was around 2:30 AM when we reached the final mountain, which was very big. As I drank a lot of impure water, I started to feel nauseous, and had diarrhoea as well. I told the smuggler I couldn’t move, and he told me that if I didn’t go with him in one or two hours, I would be eaten by foxes and dogs.
I was too tired to sleep, so I didn’t sleep much. I thought about my mother and what she would do without me. Four Pakistanis told the smuggler that we couldn’t move until we were given something to eat. The smuggler replied, “ I don’t have anything to give you guys now.” He had left all his supplies at the border between Iran and Turkey.
We continued walking and walking. I was badly affected by stomach acid, but I still had to walk all the way across the mountains. Finally, at 7:00 AM, a big car came to take all of us to a barn where cows were kept.
After six hours, another car took us to Turkey. We moved to a house in Turkey and were given some food to eat because we were all hungry. After that, the smuggler gave us the tickets for the 304 bus which brought us to the nearest station. We were in that bus for about nine hours. After that, the smuggler booked us a ticket across the side of a bridge, which belongs to Europe. We stayed there for about one week. After that, a van came to the front of our building and took us all. The Bulgarian jungle awaited us. After three hours of driving, we were finally dropped off and had two smugglers with us. They had Internet and GPS, which showed us the exact way to Serbia.
We also met two women – one of whom was pregnant – and a few children. The other woman’s infant was around five or seven months old. The infant’s crying forced the smuggler to give the children sleeping medicine. Walking through a jungle full of thorns and big-small trees at 2:30am, without any light, was terrible. Whenever we tried turning the lighter on, the smuggler would shout at us, “Don’t try to use flash.” We continued walking without any rest. We were around 90 people, stuck in a Bulgarian jungle. Finally, when we passed through whole jungle, we saw five cars approaching us. Everyone seated themselves, and after a few minutes, a boy started repeatedly yelling in the trunk, “Mariz ast,” which meant, “She is sick,” – “she” being the pregnant woman.
After five minutes, he hit the trunk harder and the family inside kept saying that she was sick with fear. I couldn’t raise my voice, but finally, I gathered courage and asked him, “What happened?”. He kept yelling, “She is sick” I thought his sister was sick. I told him, “You dare to come then, please, stay a few minutes more.” Despite the cries, the driver carelessly continued with his driving- a speed of 120 kph. Finally, the pregnant woman raised her voice and said, “Please, for God’s sake! I am bleeding! I may have a miscarriage!”
I couldn’t stay relaxed in my seat. I tried to explain to the driver in English, but he didn’t understand me, so with hand gestures I told him that the pregnant woman was bleeding. I immediately changed places with her – I went to the trunk and I gave her my seat. There was another woman with us as well and she treated the pregnant woman. After two hours, the driver transported us to a barn where we stayed for about an hour, after which, a van came and picked up the group. We stayed in a place that belonged to our smuggler.
I asked for a SIM card; one SIM card cost 40 Euros and one prepaid calling card cost 25 Euros. Everybody had to buy SIM cards to call their own smugglers and stay updated. We asked for food but food meant spending 10 Euros for one piece of bread.
Our smugglers told us to follow the train line. “Just take you first left hand street,” they said. We walked for about 14 hours with the whole group.
I was the only one who could speak English in the group. My teacher, Peter John Dalglish, the UNHABITAT country representative for Afghanistan, held English classes every Friday. We called them Super English classes. I have been taught social communication, how to be human, the meaning of humanity, and how to respect others, among other things. Peter has helped me in a lot of ways. “If you need money, I am always there to help you guys,” is what he would always say. We also had a lot of guests to our Super English Classes as well, who taught us lots of issues that we couldn’t learn about in school.
Finally, after 46-48 hours, we passed through the Serbian landscape, which looked to me like a desert. We had finally reached Hungary. We went to the police station; they did the necessary formalities, gave us papers, directed us to the train station, and then to a camp where they gave us shampoo, soup and ID cards. After spending three days in camp, the smugglers called us and told us to come to a park. We stayed in the park for about eight days.
During eight days of the stay, the people helped us with blankets, mattresses, food, clothes and everything we needed. Then, we had to continue our day hopelessly, because the way had been shut on us again! I didn’t know what to do.
I called my mother from Afghanistan and told her, “Mother I may die, don’t you worry about me. If I die here at least they will respect my body. My mother told me, crying, “Don’t say that ever again!”
One night, someone came and asked us if we could speak English. I raised my hand and he told me the city would become empty that night. “Just be careful, and translate it to your friends,” he said. Another man came and told us to “Stay together tonight and don’t get separated.” This time, we felt a little bit worried.
I was awoken from my sleep at 1:10 AM. Suddenly, I heard the police shout. We realized that there were 80 or more giant men who wanted to attack us, so we were all afraid. Some of us took thick sticks, and got ready to defend ourselves and our families. The police called for assistance, and more officers came for our protection. Luckily, no one was seriously injured that night.
That very night at around 03:00 AM, a bus took us to the Austrian border between Hungary and Utrish. After that, a train took us to Munich. We boarded the first train, and everyone was clapping for us. It was an unbelievable moment for me. They gave us lots of food. I got pizza, shoes, a coat, biscuits, chocolate – it was amazing. When I arrived at Bochum, the German people brought us lots of clothes and shoes. The German people have been very friendly to us, and I never expected they would be so nice to us.
Maverick Youth had the chance to ask Farhad a few follow up questions –
What are you presently doing in Germany?
Presently, the German government provides me Deutsch classes, which helps me to speak German.
What are your future plans and aspirations?
My future plans and aspirations are to continue my studies, and be an asset for the people here in Germany.
Would you like to leave the readers with a message?
So, if I knew beforehand that I would be facing hard times ahead, I would rather accept being killed in Afghanistan than coming here illegally like this. Every human smuggled has no worth in the eyes of their smuggler – you are like a doll to them. So if you want to have the same journey, don’t do it – you may get killed on the way, or be suffocated.
The above story underwent minimal editing by the staff at Maverick Youth. All the edits were approved by Farhad before the publishing of the story. You may view the original hand-written pages, sent to us exclusively by Farhad, by clicking here.