Jesuit Refugee Service Ireland (JRS) have accompanied a young person from Afghanistan and they have helped him to face many obstacles such as discrimination and threats on his life. Rahman met with JRS Ireland Project Worker Marta Hernandez and Jesuit.ie in Dublin’s city centre over a cup of tea.
At 15-years-old, Rahman fled his home country when the Taliban tried to recruit him after his father who was part of the group was killed by Russian forces. He is quick to point out that the word Taliban means ‘student’ and has a peaceful origin but that part of the group turned to terrorism. Leaving his mother, two younger brothers and one younger sister, Rahman fled to Pakistan where he was put in touch with an agent and then took the long arduous journey for over six months to his final destination of Dublin, Ireland.
Referring to his lengthy travel, he says, ‘Yes it was a really tough time and I didn’t know that Ireland was going to be my final destination.’ Eventually the Afghani was put into foster care where he was well looked after. Rahman worked hard to educate himself as he did his leaving cert and he cooperated with a social worker and social care workers in order to gain the right to remain, since he was in definite danger from Afghan forces at home.
However, once he turned 18 his circumstances drastically changed: he lived in hostels under the protection of the State and he was constantly interrogated and treated like a criminal by the Irish authorities. He says, ‘The staff are getting better now but back then they asked me the same questions again and again, like whether I was really from Afghanistan even though I spoke two of its languages.’ Notably, his experience with JRS Ireland has been very positive: they treated him with respect and dignity, and he got involved organising cricket and soccer matches among other asylum seekers.
Rahman is now under Subsidiary Protection which gives him the same rights as a refugee but he is not yet a citizen. ‘I would love to live in Afghanistan but I am still in danger so I don’t know if I could return.’ In the meantime Marta Hernandez helps him in practical ways such as the completion of an application for a CV and university preparation course. ‘I hope to do social care in college,’ says the Afghani, ‘I feel very thankful to JRS and I want to give back.’
Rahman believes that his life experience can help many other asylum seekers here in Ireland and at 21-years-old, his age is an advantage for a career in social care. He tells Jesuit.ie that he feels moved to share his story. We look forward to hearing how Rahman progresses over the next few months. A special thanks goes to Marta and her team at JRS Ireland; we may hear from other asylum seekers soon.