Who’s your favorite refugee? Maybe Albert Einstein? Freddy Mercury? Or M.I.A., Madeline Albright, or Superman? Perhaps it might be your grandparents? There’s too many great ones to name just one favorite.
One of our all time favorites is a young man named Ramazan. We met Ramazan 6 years ago in a large refugee camp called Moria on the Greek island of Lesvos. He left his home country of Afghanistan at the age of 19 and walked and rode in the back of trucks through Pakistan, Iran, Iraq, and Syria, at times witnessing dead bodies of other refugees on the side of the road. He said “I was dead tired. Once at the Pakistan-Iran border we had walked 11 hours in the night over mountains. I was so exhausted that I was not able to walk anymore.” Finally in Turkey, he spent his last money and got on a small dingy and floated to Lesvos Greece. All of this because of the Taliban and his desire to go to school in peace. When we first met him, he literally only had the clothing on his back. Zero money, no passport, not even a tent or sleeping bag (we helped him with those necessities).
Because he spoke some English (and many other languages) we asked him if he would like to help us in the medical tent clinic that we were volunteering in. He quickly became our main translator and even would stay in the clinic overnight to make sure it wouldn’t be broken into.
After months in this frustrating refugee camp, he made his way through Macedonia, Serbia, Slovenia, Austria and finally to Germany. After many months of being processed, and years of German language school, he was allowed to start an apprenticeship as a machine operator. Today, he works for a reputable company making high end stoves and ovens.
A few years ago, we were excited to see our dear friend again in Klohn Germany and to be normal tourists together, eating out, walking in parks, being human. It was a fantastic few days. A couple of months ago, he visited his family in Afghanistan for the first time in years, only days before the Taliban retook control of the country.
Over the years, we’ve met many impressive refugees, and Ramazan is definitely one of them. He’s hardworking, smart, ambitious, and a sweet young man of 25 years. He’s just one example of what refugees can do and become when given opportunities. Afghanistans loss is Germany’s gain. Today he has the day off from work, and as this is being written, he’s drinking coffee with friends and going out for a walk.
Refugees like Ramazan, Albert Einstein, or maybe even your grandparents are amazing people. We’re humbled to know them.
Who’s your favorite refugee?
(The first picture of Ramazan is from the refugee camp in Greece, the second is more recent in Germany)