I’ve never had a guest blogger on my site before, and I’m sure some would think it unwise to start the ball rolling with someone who doesn’t speak English as his first language. However, that’s exactly what I’m doing. And for good reason. During my time volunteering with refugees in Belgrade, I was teaching English to a group of young men. If you haven’t read my posts about Belgrade, you can catch up here and here.
One of the young men in my class, Abdul, is remarkable. A pillar of the community, Abdul helps everyone around him. He takes care of the younger and more vulnerable boys in the Barracks, Belgrade’s unofficial refugee camp.
Abdul is known to the refugee community as John Refugee because of his facebook page which highlights the conditions refugees in Serbia are living in. He reports on the lack of food, inadequate facilities, the neglect of children, police brutality and the difficulties that are faced by the 1600-2000 inhabitants of the Barracks and beyond. He wants the world to know what the conditions are like for refugees in Serbia, but mostly, he wants to warn those leaving their countries about the hardships that lie ahead.
But I won’t say any more about Abdul or his story. I will let him tell it. My very first guest blogger for Rambling Ruth may not have perfect English, but I think he’s done a great job. Of course, he’s got a good teacher 😉
(Please note that Abdul wrote his story in his own words. I have kept corrections to a minimum to preserve Abdul’s voice as much as possible)
My name is Abdul Saboor. I’m from Nangrhar in Afghanistan.
My father has two wives. He left us when I was very young and he lives with his other wife so I was very young when I started working. I was the only one in my family to support my family. At that time I was so young that people would not give me jobs. I started my own business selling ice-cream and I have worked many jobs. I also have worked with the US Army for about 6 years.
During that job, I faced many problems with the Taliban. They attacked many times and I was shot by the Taliban twice.
I don’t know why I’m not dead.
I applied for the SIV program* but it took too long and the Taliban were looking for me. I had to leave my country.
On my way I faced many problems. In Bulgaria the Police beat me and broke my arm. Also on the way I didn’t have food and water. I was eating grass.
I left my home 14 months ago. The reason was I worked with US Army and my life was in danger. I have been in Serbia for 6 months. I have tried to cross the border many times from Serbia to Hungary and Croatia. The Police beat me and deport me back to Serbia. One day I managed to get to Zagreb. In Zagreb I asked for the asylum. They said Ok we send you to the camp, but they lied to me and deported me back to Serbia.
It’s been 6 months that I’ve been in the Barracks but I’m also helping refugees and cleaning the Barracks and teaching people cricket and taking the boys to the English class everyday. I bring 6 people to swimming pool and I’m translator for one volunteer doctor. If someone is sick I go with him to hospital.
This is what I’m doing in Belgrade now.
*The Special Immigrant Visa program issues US visas to Afghans who have worked for or on behalf of the US Government.
Many thanks to Abdul for sharing his story and photographs. You can follow his Facebook Page to learn more about the refugee crisis in Serbia.