A little confused, we are waiting in front of the train station in Aarau, trying to recognize the face of Ezmari in the crowd. We don’t know him and the only time we’ve ever seen his face was on the profile picture on whats app. When he calls us we notice that we have been standing next to each other.
We start our walk for the town to have a cup of coffee. On our way Ezmari tells us affably what he had experienced. Along the way we meet a friend of Ezmari’s who greets us and friendly shakes our hands.
Ezmari is currently doing an apprenticeship as a carpenter and he’s working as a volunteer by the Red Cross. It has been approximately one and a half years since he moved in with his host family, in which three different cultures clash: Swiss, Afghan and British. Nevertheless, according to Ezmari, they have never had a real argument and their relationship is good. Proud he tells us about his selfmade birthday present for his host father.
Ezmari would like to go and study architecture at the ETH or social education, his passion is biking, preferably downhill, as he tells us enthusiastically.
After we have all ordered a coffee, Ezmari starts telling us his story:
At the age of twelve Ezamri had been sent away from Afghanistan by his mother. His father, uncle and older brother have died. For three years he was living in Iran, sewing clothes to earn some money. In Iran he had to go to prison for the first time because he had been involved in a drug trafficking. He spent six months at a place that nearly drove him out of his mind. The second time he had to go to prison was because he was ambushed. He approached a woman on the street because she was crying. She asked him for money. He intended to give her some when some guys rushed up on him and robbed him everything he had left. On top of that they denounced him of a sexual abuse.
After his time in Iran Ezmari’s journey continued to Turkey. For a whole week he persevered in the snow with nothing but a t-shirt. Barefoot he and other refugees transfered the mountain that separates them from Turkey. In Istanbul he started working as a hairdresser.
After some time Ezmari’s journey lead him over the sea. Three to four rubber dinghies should suffice for over fifty people. One day and one night was how long the crossing lasted. When his friend dropped his cigarette on the boat it burnt a hole into the rubber. With their hands they were trying to avoid all of the air leaving, leaving them to die on the ocean like so many others before them had.
Arrived in Athens, Greek, Ezmari started working as a bicycle mechanic and as a landscaper to earn some money for living. That is when he started to realize that he had become very lonely, tired and homesick. He started to question his actions. What was he doing here? He was missing home so much. It was hard to find a reason behind all of it.One night, when he was sitting at the beach all by himself, he met his best friend. At this time, his friend wanted to go to Austria, Ezmari himself had Norway as his destination.
Some time later, they headed off to Austria, togeher. With counterfeit passports they had made it into an aeroplane. Another passport control. Ezmari had unfortunately already forgotten the name on his passport. They got arrested.
Lastly they set of to Western Europe by foot and taxi. They drove through Croatia and finally arrived Austria. By train they made it to Switzerland. Since they still did not have any papers to prove their identity they had been arrested once again. After their registration and initial hearings they arrived in an asylum home. Later Ezmari had been allocated to the canton Aargau. He had, at this time, lost sight of his friend.
Ezmari was now in the asylum home, desperately trying to study. Squeezed into a small room with four other asylum seekers he could not focus. That is when he addressed to the “Caritas”, a humanitarian organization, with whose help he ended up with his host family.
Well, and now he’s here, he says, smiling.
Coincidentally he refound his friend on facebook. He is not doing so well these days, as Ezmari tells us thoughtfully. He started drinking, since he is not in such good company.
Asking about his future plans, Ezmari informs us that he had never attended a proper school. He had taught mathemathics to himself, with the aid of a cord to measure distances to check himself, if he was right.
Ezmari’s way has been hard. Today he is telling us from his experiences with a lot of humor. He seems to be a wise young man even though he is not much older than we are. When he arrived in Switzerland he had not necessarily been welcomed with open arms and he had to be matured way to fast. While he was attending the trade school, his classmates would always harass him since he got better marks without “even knowing German”. Today he has a lot of friends. He already gave some interviews, he was in the NZZ and he is to play a part in a movie, which should be released in 2017.
Still, he would love to go back home, if it would be safe. Not because he is not happy in Switzerland but because his roots, his home, is not here. It is in Afghanistan. In his home country there are odors, colors and memories of his childhood.
“Home cannot be described. It can only be felt with the heart.”
We hope that one day we as Swiss people will be able to be a little peace of home in his heart and make it feel like a second home. We can certainly try so, starting by listening and learning from each other.