Sameer, Afghanistan



I come from the fourth biggest city in my country, Mazar-i-Shariff. Half a million people live there. In the center of the city, we have a large square with a beautiful mosque. Right next to that, I had started a small shop. Literally, because it was only two by three meters. I sold computer accessories such as mice, keyboards and bags. Of course I had to leave that behind, along with a large group of friends and bunch of family.


My parents worked for an organization of which some projects were financed from the Netherlands. They worked on women's rights, built schools and drilled wells in remote areas. That's why we had to flee when the Taliban took over the country. We were a target. If not, we might have stayed.


At first, we fled to Uzbekistan. We went there simply by car. But we couldn't get an evacuation flight there, so we had to go back to Mazar-i-Shariff to get a flight via Iran and Qatar to come to the Netherlands. That was in the spring of this year. By the time we left, the Taliban had already taken over the entire country. We were just in time.


When we arrived last March, we first had to go to the police. I remember a large canvas sign that said that according to Dutch law there are equal rights and opportunities for everyone, regardless of race, skin color, religion, and so on. Seeing that made me extremely happy. I will never forget that moment. And this (see photo) is a sheet that hangs at the entrance of our Asylum Seekers Camp in Oegstgeest. That’s where I now live along with my parents, brothers and sisters. All seven of us have our permission already. We are waiting to be assigned a house in Katwijk.


Besides my shop, which was something I did on the side, I also had to give up studying medicine when we left. I had been studying for four years already and wanted to specialize as an orthopedist. There is a great need for that in my country. We have been at war for years. There are many broken or amputated legs and arms. Children are also born regularly with orthopedic abnormalities. I would have liked to contribute to solutions for these problems.


I'm going to try to continue studying medicine here. If that is not an option, I want to study computer science. But first I have to learn the Dutch language, which I work hard at every day. I also started with theory lessons to get a driver's license. And I am busy with the integration process. I work hard and have big plans for the future.