Afghan girls, living in India, work tirelessly to carve out a better future and shake off 'refugee' tag

Asia's Tech News Daily

Afghan girls, living in India, work tirelessly to carve out a better future and shake off 'refugee' tag
© Provided by Firstpost Afghan girls, living in India, work tirelessly to carve out a better future and shake off ‘refugee’ tag

“Afghans are big dreamers. They are hardworking. One day, I will show the world that I am an Afghan woman who has recovered from difficulties. I will show the world that Afghan people are not worthless. They are not just refugees,” says 16-year-old Negor* who came to India from Kabul around three years back.

Negor is among thousands of Afghans who took refuge in India in the past few years. As millions flee Afghanistan with the Taliban returning to power in pursuit of safety, girls Negor’s age are still trying to pick up the pieces and rebuild their lives in India.

“In Kabul, I was in a school where I was learning photography… My school had a library. It seems like a dream now. It was really hard for me when I came to India. Every afternoon, I cried. I missed my friends, my relatives, and my father,” says Negor, who came to India with her three siblings. Her mother passed away a few years back, and her father has another family now.

The stories of three teenage friends Negor, Rihana*,16, and Sadiya*,17, who met at a workshop centre run by a civil society organisation in south Delhi’s Malviya Nagar reflect a common thread — they are bound by a history of their unlived dream of a life in Afghanistan, a fierce optimism about the future, and their sheer determination to move abroad from ‘living like refugees’ in India.

The teenagers are not divorced from reality. Their angst at reconciling with the news back in Afghanistan is palpable. As the news streams in, they relive their struggles in trying to make India ‘a home’, and recount how hard they try every day to shake off the feeling of a ‘refugee’. Their families insist that they stay away from constantly checking the news of Afghanistan on their smartphones.

A mood board crammed with cut-outs of open spaces, public libraries, shelves full of books, designer clothes, and vacation spots reflect their aspirations for leading ‘normal’ lives. They came up with the mood board as a part of an exercise during an art therapy workshop organised by the Peacebuilding Project and People Beyond Borders under a United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). The workshop helped the participants in expressing themselves better in the community, points out Kashvi Chandok, a programmes associate at the Peacebuilding Project.

Negor wants to be a screenwriter, Rihana a fashion designer, and Sadiya a nurse. With their families managing to barely make ends meet, the three were forced to drop out of schools. Currently, they are learning through online tuitions. Alongside, they are already working hard to secure their future.

According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) India, there were 15,217 refugees and asylum seekers registered in the country till March.

With the humanitarian crisis unfolding in Afghanistan and people seeking refuge in neighbouring countries, the chorus on granting refugee status to hundreds of Afghans in the country has grown in the past few weeks.

Did they flee for ‘freedom’?

Negor, Rihana and Sadiya animatedly discuss what freedom means to them. Were they free in Afghanistan? Or are they free now? They go over the small details of the lives now left behind — if a bathroom outside the room as was in their house in Afghanistan is better than one attached to it, how it was to live close to their relatives, and if they left Afghanistan to feel the essence of freedom. But with the Taliban back in power, their hope of returning to Afghanistan is gradually ebbing, Sadiya says quietly. “When we left Kabul, we thought we would be free in another land,” she says.

When asked what keeps them going, the teenaged girls say it is their family’s unwavering support in helping them nurture their dreams. Despite struggling financially and emotionally, they managed to focus on the pros in India — learning Hindi, English, making friends when they were in school, and making Afghan culture more popular among their peers through their work.

Rebuilding their lives

Rihana was tired of sewing clothes by hand to practise designs she sees online. She was eyeing a sewing machine at a shop for some time. One day, she returned home to it — her brother and father gave her no inkling that they were aggressively saving up to buy her the machine.

“I could not believe my eyes. It was an expensive machine for them to afford. But I am sure I will make them very proud. I will go to Canada to do a fashion designing course some day. My mother has told me to design the clothes I want, and to market the designs well,” says Rihana.

She explains how the clothes she designs boast of Afghan culture. She designs and stitches for friends and cousins. “In fact, I design and stitch all the clothes I wear. I do not buy from the market. Compared to the market rate, I charge very little. Nobody has said so far that they have not liked what I have stitched. I keep watching videos on YouTube. I keep mulling over the design, how it will suit the person who wears it… I do a very good job with my designs. Don’t think I am just saying it… I am confident because I have attempted the most difficult designs…,” says a confident Rihana. Her two elder sisters who are settled in Canada and Tajikistan often lament they can’t wear the beautiful clothes she is designing, the teenager adds.

She dreams of getting an opportunity to design more clothes which would also help her family’s financial status.

For Sadiya, it is her ability to stay calm amidst the chaos that has been a treasure while negotiating her life in India. When things went from bad to worse for her family during the lockdown, she took up a job in a restaurant opposite a hospital in south Delhi to help out with the finances.

“I am the only person in the family who can be steadfast in all situations. I am also the only person who has managed to learn Hindi. So my family depends on me for every chore that needs interacting with people outside. I do not want to lose my calm ever… I think choosing a career path as a nurse would suit me,” says the 17-year-old.

Negor’s life here is peppered with writing essays on Afghanistan, devouring the ‘shelf full of books on Afghanistan’, and playing Afghani music on the keyboard that her siblings surprised her with. “I had a dream in Afghanistan… it was to play the piano,” says Negor. Her mood shifts to being vibrant as she shows her music videos.

Tarana Faroqi, director, Peacebuilding Project, India, says, “The biggest challenge for teenage girls coming to another country is gaining acceptance in the community outside theirs. This leads to a range of other issues that they eventually face. The uncertainties about their future looming before them make their situations more difficult. In most cases, their families are living in hand to mouth situations.”

Meanwhile, the three teenagers are certain that the present cannot define their future. They are feisty about carving out a better future for themselves — one where they have more respect.

Negor, who is the most vocal among them when it comes to politics, says she cannot define freedom in this country. “Here, we are refugees. Everywhere we go, we are asked if we are visitors or refugees. I say we are refugees. They usually treat us like poor people — like a person who has nothing, like a person who has no ego. We have a country too. And, we have not forgotten the history of the Taliban, America and Russia,” Negor adds passionately.

*These names have been changed on request to protect their identities.

Ritwika Mitra is an independent journalist based out of New Delhi

Internet Explorer Channel Network
Asia's Tech News Daily
News Related

OTHER NEWS

‘Are you watching Ralf?' - Manchester United fans laud James Garner goal for Nottingham Forest

Manchester United fans are raving over loanee James Garner after he scored his first goal of the season for Nottingham Forest in their 2-0 Championship win over Peterborough United on ... Read more »

Lewis Hamilton distances himself from F1 team Kingspan deal

Lewis Hamilton has distanced himself from his Formula One team’s partnership deal with Kingspan, an insulation company linked to the Grenfell Tower fire, saying he had “nothing” to do with ... Read more »

Prince William reveals song that brings back heartwarming memories of Princess Diana

© Provided by Hello! prince-william-sandringham-church The Duke of Cambridge has revealed the song that brings back heartwarming memories of his late mother, Diana, Princess of Wales. Prince William selects three ... Read more »

Arthur Labinjo-Hughes murder: Government announces national investigation

© PA Media Arthur Labinjo-Hughes death A national investigation will probe the murder of six-year-old Arthur Labinjo-Hughes, Dominic Raab said. The boy’s stepmother Emma Tustin was sentenced to life imprisonment ... Read more »

Lamborghini Huracan STO UK review

© Provided by Motoring Research Lamborghini Huracan STO © Provided by Motoring Research Lamborghini Huracan STO A year ago, in a rare attempt at money-saving advice, I declared the entry-level ... Read more »

Covid news – live: Omicron ‘squandering' UK efforts as Raab scraps Christmas party and urges ‘common sense'

© AFP via Getty Images Face maks London.jpg LIVE – Updated at 09:37 Britain’s bid to stamp out the threat of coronavirus is “being squandered” by the new omicron variant, ... Read more »

NASA's chile pepper experiment broke 2 world records, including one for feeding the most astronauts from a crop grown on the ISS

© Provided by Business Insider Astronauts pictured with the first harvest of chile peppers grown aboard the International Space Station. NASA Astronauts aboard the International Space Station harvested chile peppers ... Read more »

President Barrow holds early lead in Gambia's election

© Reuters/ZOHRA BENSEMRA FILE PHOTO: Presidential election in Gambia By Bate Felix BANJUL (Reuters) – President Adama Barrow held an early lead in Gambia’s presidential election, winning more than half ... Read more »

Georgia Fowler slammed for tribute to Louis Vuitton's Virgil Abloh

© Provided by Daily Mail MailOnline logo Georgia Fowler is being accused of using the death of Virgil Abloh to draw attention to herself this week after she shared an ‘odd’ ... Read more »

Wayne Rooney reveals reason behind surprising Derby County decision following Bristol City defeat

© Provided by Football League World Derby County v Salford City FC – Carabao Cup First Round Derby County manager Wayne Rooney has suggested that he decided to drop Kelle ... Read more »

Man Utd predicted line-up vs Crystal Palace as Ralf Rangnick takes charge for the first time

Ralf Rangnick will finally be overseeing things from the Old Trafford dug-out for Manchester United when Crystal Palace come to town. After work-permit issues prevented him from taking charge of ... Read more »

Ahead of Punjab poll, Sidhu protests outside Kejriwal's house, takes up Delhi teachers' cause

© Provided by The Print New Delhi: About three months before the Punjab assembly elections where the Congress and Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) will be in direct competition against each other, ... Read more »

Omicron patient in Maharashtra stable, responding well to treatment: Officials

© Provided by Hindustan Times The Omicron patient is being treated at a Covid-19 care centre in Kalyan.  (HT File Photo/Representative Image) The 33-year-old man from Maharashtra’s Thane district, who ... Read more »

India to Reaffirm Defence Ties With Russia Amid US Lobbying as Putin Arrives on Short But Packed Visit Tomorrow

© Provided by News18 India to Reaffirm Defence Ties With Russia Amid US Lobbying as Putin Arrives on Short But Packed Visit Tomorrow Ahead of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s visit ... Read more »

Jets vs. Eagles: Preview, predictions, what to watch for

An inside look at Sunday’s Jets-Eagles Week 13 matchup at MetLife Stadium: Marquee matchup The Eagles’ offensive line vs. the Jets’ defensive line These two units got to know each ... Read more »

IHC's tech-focused subsidiary Multiply starts trading on ADX

© Provided by The National IHC’s tech-focused subsidiary started trading under the ticker ‘Multiply’ on the ADX’s main market. Photo: Multiply Group Multiply Group, a subsidiary of Abu Dhabi’s International ... Read more »

The Hong Kong Bach Choir at 50: diverse and well drilled, with ‘a feeling of community', it grew from amateur expat group

Formed by expats, the Bach Choir began diversifying its membership in the 1990s, and becoming more professional, under the direction of Jerome Hoberman It is very demanding, but you make ... Read more »

Prince Harry met Saudi billionaire who donated thousands of pounds to his charity amid Charles ‘cash for access' probe

PRINCE Harry reportedly met with a Saudi billionaire who donated thousands of pounds to his charity amid Prince Charle's “cash for access probe.” It comes as the Duke's foundation is ... Read more »

Banksy offers £10m to BUY prison that once held Oscar Wilde after painting artwork of prisoner escaping on jail's wall

ANKSY has offered to stump up £10m to BUY a prison that once held Oscar Wilde after the famous street artist covered the jail's wall with artwork. The anonymous graffiti ... Read more »

Brits will be exhausted by the time Christmas arrives as they squeeze in socialising, shopping and work, study finds

More than 23 million Brits will be completely and utterly exhausted by the time Christmas arrives, according to research. A study found 35 per cent of adults admit they are ... Read more »

Covid has changed Christmas traditions forever with Brits nervous to return to usual festive activities, survey finds

BRITS have revealed their best-loved Christmas traditions, including watching festive films, wearing Christmas jumpers – and tucking into turkey sandwiches on Boxing Day. A study of 2,000 adults found Christmas ... Read more »

BWF World Tour Finals: PV Sindhu Settles For Silver After Going Down Against South Korean An Seyoung

© Vishal Pushkar | India.com Sports Desk PV Sindhu (Credits Instagram) Bali: Indian shuttler PV Sindhu settled for a silver medal after going down meekly to South Korea’s An Seyoung ... Read more »

India vs New Zealand 2021, Live Cricket Score: Mitchell, Young aim to steady ship after NZ lose Latham

© Provided by Firstpost India vs New Zealand 2021, Live Cricket Score: Mitchell, Young aim to steady ship after NZ lose Latham 15:08 (IST) FOUR! Mitchell makes no mistake as he ... Read more »

Tea Report: India In Driver's Seat, Hosts Set 540-Run Target After Axar, Shubman Cameos

© Provided by News18 Tea Report: India In Driver’s Seat, Hosts Set 540-Run Target After Axar, Shubman Cameos India tightened the screws on New Zealand with Ravi Ashwin already picking ... Read more »

Prince William gets emotional as he discusses mental health for Apple Fitness+ special

© POOL In the Apple Fitness+ audio series, Britain’s Prince William reveals the impact of dealing with life and death moments when he was a helicopter pilot with East Anglian ... Read more »

PM Modi lauds Neeraj Chopra for motivating young students on sports, fitness

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday hailed Olympic gold medalist Neeraj Chopra for motivating young students at a school, saying such efforts will increase curiosity towards sports and exercising. Modi’s ... Read more »

Puducherry makes COVID-19 vaccination compulsory

The government of Puducherry has announced that COVID-19 vaccination is compulsory in the Union Territory with immediate effect. “We have enforced compulsory COVID-19 vaccination in Puducherry UT. Out of over ... Read more »

Gambians await presidential result in test for young democracy

© JOHN WESSELS Gambians voted by dropping marbles into coloured tubs, due to high levels of illiteracy Gambians were waiting Sunday to find out the winner of the first presidential ... Read more »

Boris Johnson news – live: PM faces trust crisis after sleaze row as crackdown on drug users to be launched

© PA Wire Downing Street market LIVE – Updated at 09:25 Trust in politicians to act in the national interest has fallen dramatically since Boris Johnson became Prime Minister, new ... Read more »

Yorkshire shepherdess Amanda Owen: ‘The only spa I know about is a Spar shop'

© Provided by The Guardian Photograph: Gary Calton/The Observer Our Yorkshire Farm, now in its fifth series, has been a surprise hit for Channel 5: it’s the broadcaster’s most popular ... Read more »

'It didn't feel right to revisit it': Cheryl axes BBC podcast following Sarah Harding's passing

© Bang Showbiz Cheryl axes podcast following Sarah Harding’s passing Cheryl has cancelled her ‘You, Me & R&B’ podcast for the BBC because it “didn’t feel right” to “revisit” it ... Read more »

Prince William reveals Tina Turner song brings back memories of his mother Diana

© PA Wire Diana, Princess of Wales (PA) – PA Wire The Duke of Cambridge has revealed a Tina Turner hit brings back treasured memories of his mother singing it ... Read more »

One winner and one loser following Cardiff's 3-2 defeat v Sheffield United

© Provided by Football League World Championship – Swansea City v Cardiff City Cardiff City endured a difficult afternoon as they fell to a 3-2 defeat at home to Sheffield ... Read more »

Forget Morelos: "Terrific" Rangers beast who won 100% duels ran the show v Dundee - opinion

© Provided by Football FanCast barisic Rangers had no issue getting past their opposition in their latest SPFL match on Saturday with a 3-0 win thanks to goals from Alfredo ... Read more »

Millions of Brits will be completely exhausted by the time Christmas Day arrives

© Mark Evans/Getty Images A third of Brits say December is most tiring month Almost a quarter blamed being knackered on the amount of socialising they try to squeeze in ... Read more »

How can a country that hails Josephine Baker take the racist Zemmour seriously?

“How does it feel to be a white man?” Simeon was not a white man. He was an African American who had left his homeland to escape the ferocious racism ... Read more »

Pakistan's PM pledges severity with suspects after Sri Lankan man lynched

Pakistan’s prime minister told Sri Lanka’s president that more than 100 people have been detained in the lynching of a Sri Lankan factory manager and suspects will be “prosecuted with ... Read more »

Appeal to identify men after violent armed robbery in Highgate

An investigation has been launched after a group of males attacked a man before robbing a shop in Highgate. © Met Police robbery.jpg Four men – two armed with crowbars ... Read more »

Bye-Bye GT-R: The All-New Z Is Nissan's Next Super GT Race Car

nismo_001 nismo_005 nismo_006 nismo_002 nismo_003 nismo_004 © Motor1.com Copyright nismo_001 This Z is ready to for the grid. It’s official, Nissan is retiring the long-running GT-R. However, it’s not the ... Read more »

Germany: incoming minister advises against Christmas travel

1 / 2Virus Outbreak GermanyMany people wait outside a swimming pool where booster shots against Corona are given in Bad Krozingen, Germany, Friday, Dec. 3, 2021. (Philipp von Ditfurth/dpa via ... Read more »
On free-english-test.com you will find lots of free English exam practice materials to help you improve your English skills: grammar, listening, reading, writing, ielts, toeic