Nasrudin Nizami and his amazing story

I met Mr Nasrudin Nisami on July 26 2017 at Monastiraki in central Athens. He is the Public Relations Manager of Solomon, a content production organisation. I interviewed him about his life and his past.

Could you please describe your life briefly for us?

I am Nasrudin Nizami from Nangahar province in Afghanistan. I finished high school in Afghanistan and I have worked with computers, software and hardware. I have also worked as a tailor, because ever since I was a child I have wanted to pay for my own studies.

Why did you want to travel to Europe?

As most people in the world are aware, there are a lot of security problems in Afghanistan. When I left, there was trouble between political parties but there was also a lack of basic freedoms, both for men and women. The main reason for my journey was not financial. I was fed up with life in Afghanistan, which lacked the basics that would allow someone to live well and to study. I lived in Pakistan for a while, which was my first experience of life as an immigrant.

Tell us about your journey to Europe from the beginning and about the difficulties you encountered.

In 2009, the difficult living conditions in Afghanistan led me to the decision to change my life. I asked a cousin of mine who lives in England to help me get there. The first stop on my journey was Pakistan. I then entered Iran illegally, followed by Turkey and the Greek island of Samos. The journey at sea was appalling. It took me two months to get to Greece from Afghanistan, with difficulties and dangers all the way. I spent two weeks in the Samos refugee reception centre. The Greek police took my fingerprints and gave me a piece of paper that said I had one month to leave Greece. I stayed in Samos for a while and then arrived in Athens, the capital. At that time there weren’t many organizations helping immigrants. I spent a week in guesthouses in Athens and then went to Patra hoping to cross over to Italy. Conditions there were even harder. For a whole month I had nowhere to sleep and so the roadside became my bed. I finally made it to Italy, hidden in a lorry inside a ferry for 36 hours. I bought a train ticket and arrived in France. I spent two weeks in a forest in Calais before making it to England. I requested asylum but eight months later, in June 2008 my application was rejected because of the fingerprints I had given in Greece. They sent me back to Greece. A friend helped me find work and I started to learn the language.

However, one year later, I was unhappy with my living conditions so my friend and I decided to leave. This time we travelled through the Balkans, and after facing various problems such as attacks and robbery in Serbia, the theft of my money and arrest by the police, I finally arrived in Austria. Five months later, I ended up with the same problem I had faced in England and they sent me back to Greece. This time I made the decision to stay in Greece. I worked for 20 months on an island. I improved my Greek and decided to go to Athens to continue my studies. I worked as interpreter for various organizations such as IOM and GCR. I studied Greek history, civilization and language. In 2015 I set up the website “Refugee Welcome” in order to help immigrants. Through that I met Mr Fanis who is the director of the online news agency Solomon, and thanks to him I got a job at this magazine. At the magazine “Solomon”, we write various articles from a variety of countries. Our volunteer workforce comes from several countries such as Afghanistan, Greece, Pakistan, China etc.

Finally, after all these painful challenges during those long and tiring journeys, what is your life like now?

Well, I am now happy with life. I may not have achieved my most basic goal, but I get closer to it every day, through a lot of effort.

Do you have any piece of advice for today’s refugees?

The advice that I would give them is never to give up and to strive every day to achieve their goals with positive thinking. They should learn from their mistakes so as not to repeat them.

This article was originally published in the third issue of ‘Migratory Birds’. The third issue of ‘Migratory Birds’ was produced by the Network for Children’s Rights, with support from UNICEF and the European Commission’s Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operation and the Foreign Federal Office of Germany, and published in Greece’s Efsyn newspaper on September 30, 2017.

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