‘Leaving is never easy!’


PORTRAIT 22 – LESVOS – KARA TEPE – JULY 2016

He is wearing a t-shirt with an image of the French flag, and a black cap with a print on the left side of the Dutch flag and on the right of the British one. One can’t possibly radiate much more pro-Europe than this right?…

He’s proud of his cap. It was gifted to him by Twan van Steenhoven of Dutch rap band The Opposites. The Alkmaar local rapper was volunteering at camp Kara Tepe in June and obviously impressed this young Afghan.
Staying at Kara Tepe is pretty good he thinks. Much better than at camp Moria, where he stayed the first month. “I attend English class here daily. All the English words I know, I’ve learned here. They also organize a movie night twice a week: one in Arabic and one in Persian.”

Portret 22- Lesbos ©Vluchtelingen in Europa

He’s from a village nearby Kabul. “We left Afghanistan three months ago. Leaving the country where you were born and raised is never easy! I had to leave behind a lot of friends, of which I find a few back here. Fact is that it’s too dangerous to stay in Afghanistan.”
“The journey to Lesvos was very rough, especially the boat ride. It took four hours and we were with 65 of on a too small boat.” He feared for his life and not only his own, but mostly for that of his family.” I’m 22 years old and the oldest child in our family. They gave me a lot of responsibility.” It’s his task to safely bring his mother, younger brothers and sisters to Belgium.

“My father fled to Belgium six years ago and received a temporary residence permit. They’ve tried applying for family reunification, meaning his father would have to have a job but he hasn’t managed to yet.” My 18 years old brother traveled via this route to Belgium last year to see if it was possible. He then spent two days only on Lesvos.” It seemed like a good idea to speed up the family reunification, the illegal way. And so he left taking with him his mother, brothers of 16 and 12 and his sisters aged 19 and 15. Unfortunately they stranded on Lesvos and are here now 65 days. It’s still unclear if and when they can continue traveling to Belgium. Until then he’s responsible for the entire family. Quite a heavy load to wear when only 22…

Would you like to know more about the circumstances in Lesvos? Read: About Lesvos