Basir and Hasina were new arrivals to Greece from Afghanistan. They had only been there a month when we met them and were in Athens attempting to complete the paperwork to apply for services. The refugee camp where they had been staying was a two-hour bus ride away and it was by chance that we were able to meet them in Athens that day.
Both Basir and Hasina were teachers in the Taliban ruled area of Afghanistan. The Taliban, being against education, began threatening them to get them to stop teaching their students. So, for their safety and that of their family, these two innocent people fled and left behind all that they knew and loved. They, along with their three beautiful children Omar, Orman, and Zinat, started their journey towards Europe – a trek that took the family 45 days to complete. Walking over mountains, through knee-deep snow, and deserts they finally made it to Turkey where they were able to enter Greece. However, their journey is not over, the hardest part is before them: finding a final destination and ultimately a home.
As we sat listening to Basir tell the story of his family, I watched Hasina soothe sweet Zinat who has just woken from a nap. Orman grew restless as most toddlers do but calmed down once his orange juice came and Omar sat quietly taking us all in.
I couldn’t help but think of my own life as a mom. There are days when my kids are running wild, they are cranky and I’m counting down the minutes to bedtime. I have no doubt that Hasina has those moments but just like me, all she wants for her children are stability and a future where they can achieve their biggest dreams.
As we finished up our coffee and juice, Basir thanked us and told us he would enjoy continuing our conversation but on this day, he and Hasina had too much on their minds. They were so focused on getting their paperwork that they couldn’t focus on anything else. Getting papers in Greece is vital to having access to food, medication, and housing assistance.
I was reminded at that moment why More Than Numbers exists, to meet needs. If we are able to fill the gap between when a refugee arrives in Greece to when they are able to qualify for existence, they will be able to think beyond their basic needs and look toward their future.