Part III: The Story of Ali

2015. szeptember 07., hétfő

This past May a group of American students and their teacher decided to do their missions trip in Budapest with the refugee mission of Reformed Mission Centre (RMK). During their stay, students became acquainted with several people and families and they learned about their ways of life and the turbulent situations that forced them to flee. Part III.

Hope: “Ali was a shepherd before his family was forced to leave Afghanistan. He is a Hazara Afghani, which is a minority ethnic group in Afghanistan. The Pashtun people are another ethnic group that made up the majority in Afghanistan. Ali states that as a shepherd, the field where his sheep were grazing bordered a field that was owned by Pashtuns. There had been some fighting between the two groups last April or May. Ali knew that his family and his life were in jeopardy because the Pashtuns were a strong group and were merciless. 

“They crossed the mountains for three days on foot and reached a city where Ali had a friend who let them stay with him for one night. They couldn’t stay longer because his friend warned them that the Pashtuns could be there within one day.  Since the family left in such a rush, they had no money and hardly any belongings. Fortunately, Ali’s wife did have some jewelry that amounted to 300-400 grams of gold that the family sold to a human smuggler before fleeing again. The family then travelled to Pakistan for one night, then continued to Iran, and made it to Turkey where they stayed for about ten to twelve days. They continued to Athens, Greece and stayed for one week before moving into Macedonia. By this point his entire family was very exhausted and they only had about one day’s worth of food at a time. They made it to Serbia and then to Hungary where they were captured on the border and put into jail by the Hungarian police. Ali was separated from his wife and kids in the jail and was in a cell with about 25 other men and had no room to sleep or do anything. Ali said that he asked the policeman why his family was treated this way.  The policeman apologized in response and said        that they had no room to put his family together in one cell. His family was fingerprinted by the Hungarian government and labeled asylum-seekers and put into a camp. While in the camp, the human smuggler Ali had sold the gold to in Afghanistan contacted him and told him that the jewelry they had given him was enough money for them to move to Norway. Ali’s family went on the move again and crossed into Austria, made it to Germany in a car, and eventually to Norway where they lived for one year. 

“While in Norway, Ali and his family enjoyed life and were able to get their own home where both kids had their own bedroom with a bed for themselves. The family participated in weekly activities with refugees in Norway and was able to finally relax and forget about problems back in Afghanistan. After one great year in Norway, the Norwegian police contacted Ali and told him that they had realized that he had been fingerprinted in Hungary. They told him that he would have to go back to Hungary because that is the first country in the European Union that he checked into. As a result, Ali and his family moved back to Hungary and were put into the Bicske camp. The conditions in Bicske were not near as nice as what his family had gotten used to in Norway. They had communal bathrooms and kitchens and their whole family shared one room. Ali and his family lived in Bicske for eight months before obtaining status papers. He pulled out his ID card and began to explain that his family was given five years of substitute protection. He worries about what Hungary will decide to do with his family in five years. Ali shared that, in this time, he has become very active in the movement for refugees that is growing in Hungary as a result of a letter that the new prime minister of Hungary recently published grouping refugees and terrorists together. He stated that this publication—that was given to about 8 million Hungarians—has not helped the already negative view of refugees that the Hungarian citizens have. Ali is strongly against the notion that refugees are terrorists because his family was running from the terrorists/rebels in Afghanistan and don’t want to be associated with them. He said since they have been at school in Budapest, Ali’s kids have been called terrorists by students in their classes. Ali shared that he would be willing to move his family to another new country because he doesn’t want his children to grow up in an environment like in Hungary where they are living under even more pressure and worry that they have in addition to the worries of their situation in Afghanistan.

“Ali’s story needs to be shared because people need to realize that his family is just a normal family who was forced to run for their safety. They have huge burdens that they didn’t choose to carry that have made adapting to life as a refugee in Hungary very difficult.”

Hope Hansee

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We encourage you to read our  former GM intern Kearstin Bailey's blog about her time, spent in Hungary.