“I want to make people smile”

We are a little bit late but we catch on Samim* on the doorstep. “Isn’t punctuality very important in Switzerland?” says laughing.
We are now sitting in one of the small class rooms and Samim starts telling us his story.

He grows up in a small village in Afghanistan. He is a Hazara and is being suppressed and persecuted by the Taliban and the Pashtung, like millions of other Hazara. His uncle and grandfather had already been killed.
One day his family has to flee from a Talib attack. Samim’s older sister dies of the consequences of the dramatic flight out of the villafe. Samim’s father being scared of his son being killed as well sends away his son. Samim therefore goes to Iran but returns home after one year.
His father survived the fights but is suffering from severe injuries on his legs and is only able to walk with the aid of a stick.

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At the age of 15 Samim sets off for an uncertain journey. After 10 days he reaches Kabul and travels to Pakistan and Iran. Together with a migrant smuggler he travels towards Turkey. Hiking over mountains without water or food he has to witness three men and one woman die from exhaustion.

The inflatable dighy that should take him over to Greece is damaged and the refugees being on it need to reinflate it twice so that they don’t drown in the ocean.

After 18 hours of walking Samim reaches Lesbos’ capital Mytilene where he has to register himself. He sleeps outside on the ground while the rain is pouring down.
With the bus Samim travels further to Macedonia and passes through Serbia until he arrives in Austria.

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In Austria he is offered a stay and an accomodation. But Samim refuses. He knows he needs to go to Switzerland.
A woman from the Red Cross once told him about Switzerland, that it was beautiful there, with loads of mountains, that there was no war in Switzerland. It was then that he knew he needed to come here.
But until he finally ends up in Switzerland he is being arrested by the police several times, deported to other cities and registered over again. But he know he needs to reach Switzerland and doesn’t give up. Eventually he catches a train and finally arrives in Basel.

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Samim is now living in the canton Aargau in Switzerland for some months. Since he already is 16 years old he isn’t required to attend school anymore. He therefore lost his right to regular education and isn’t allowed to attend school. He has the possibility to go to a little school that has been established by several volunteers. Even though the things he is learning here aren’t enableing him to go to university he knows that he has been offered a big opportunity.

Altough Samim seems happy he admits that he wouldn’t be able to eat or drink, that he wouldn’t be sleeping in the night the first days here. He has seen so many sad and terrible things. Still he has never lost his smile.

Since he has been little Samim dreams of becoming a nurse. His first internship in an old people’s and nursing home begins in the coming weeks. Being able to learn something is currently the most important thing to him. He wants to study German and get to know our Swiss culture.

To the question what it takes for him to feel well and to be happy he answers without hesitating that he wishes that his family is healthy. It has been two months since he had last been in touch with them. Even though his aunt has asured him that his parents are doing well, Samim is still hoping they’re still alive.
Samim hopes for a quiet life, without war. But most of all he wants to help other people.

“I want to make people smile. I mean, that’s the most important thing, isn’t it?”

We totally agree with that and hope that Samim’s dreams are going to come true and that he will be able to do exactly this, making people smile. We are so grateful that he shared his story with us. We are now sharing this story with you. Because it is a story happened to so many people. A story full of pain and sorrow still being so filled with hope. And it is an example of human staying power, trust, faith, respect and love.

The future of this story is still uncertain but hopefully there will be plenty of doors opening to it. We wish you, Samim, all the best for your fresh start here with us.


Much love,

*Name changed


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