Firash’s Story

Meet the people behind the numbers – Firash’s Story:

The first thing you notice about Firash is his warm, friendly demeanour. He helps everyone, his wisdom and kindness are far beyond his 24 years.

Firash shared his story with us, ‘My story is one of hope’, he began.
Firash’s story begins in Afghanistan . He grew up in small city with his family and enjoyed an ordinary, happy and peaceful life. ‘I had no issues, I slept well. I loved my family, my studies, my friends’. Like most people in Afghanistan his life went on despite the conflict and uncertainty.

At that time Firash was studying computer science at university. One afternoon after classes he went with friends to kick a football around, something they did most days.

Suddenly, while standing on the football pitch, they were surrounded by members of the Taliban. They took Firash and his friends against their will to a deserted school building where they were separated. The Taliban had one mission – to recruit new members. Firash, like his friends had wanted nothing to do with the conflict and resisted.
For several months, the then 19-year-old Firash was tortured as they determined to break him into submission. Under torture, his three friends were convinced to join them.

During his captivity Firash thought about his family, they had no idea what had happened to him, and he had no idea if they were still alive.
Months after being taken, Firash could hear shelling and firing nearby. As the sound grew louder, the Taliban fled and Firash was rescued. Disorientated, he wandered out into the street, ‘I was different person’, he recalled, ‘I couldn’t even remember where I lived’, then a shell exploded and Firash was hit.

He was taken to hospital where he spent months recovering, he had been hit by shrapnel in his shoulder and back. His injuries required skin grafts and his legs continue to be affected by the injury to his back.

Firash was discharged from hospital but was too fearful to return to his parent’s home as he knew the Taliban were looking for him and they wouldn’t give up. He went to his Grandmother’s house where he was met by one of his sisters – they were overjoyed to see him, embracing him, hugging and crying. Firash phoned his parents. They had to tell him something that no parent should ever have say – they told him to leave his home, leave his Country. It wasn’t even safe enough for him to say goodbye to them in person.

Firash fled Afghanistan , leaving behind his family and his life. He was 19 years old, traumatised, totally alone, and now he had to navigate himself to safety.

He was smuggled into safe houses on a route that led him to Spain. Weeks passed in those houses where he was unable to go outside. When it was eventually a little safe for him to move, Firash followed the smugglers walking through dangerous terrains, crossing mountains and deserts. There was a lack of food, water and a fear that the smugglers would just abandon him. ‘You couldn’t stop, there was no time to rest, you had to keep walking, only resting when the smugglers told you to’, recalled Firash. Whenever he could he phoned home to let his family know he was still alive. It would take him 18 months to reach Spain.

Even though there was a very real prospect of losing his life he decided to keep going and risk the crossing, he boarded a small boat heading to the UK. ‘There were 23 of us on that boat. I didn’t think we would survive the journey, but I knew I needed to move forward to find a life again’.

Firash was one of the fortunate ones whose boat survived the crossing. Once in the UK he was helped by various charitable organisations, Refugee Support Group was one of them. RSG offer accredited legal advice and our resettlement team help people like Firash settle into the community. For the first time in months, Firash felt surrounded by people who were there to help and support him. He became a regular attendee at our weekly drop-ins, he received counselling for PTSD, and slowly he began to find himself. ‘It used to be a big part of my life, but now I can talk about it. It’s now a small part of my story. I still struggle with flashbacks, but I realise I’m safe here.’, Firash smiled.

Through RSG Firash now works with refugees and asylum seekers for a partner organisation and dedicates his time to helping others. ‘The main point of working with refugees is the lived experienced I have that can help others. When I see someone who has been through the same as me, I have to do my best to help them, to re-assure them that they are safe, and no one can hurt them now’.

Firash is working and studying, he finished his degree online and plans to undertake a PHD in the future ‘I feel stronger, light is inside me, it’s hope that makes me move forward, it helps me’.

We can only support people like Firash with help from generous people like you. Thank you to all of you who donate.

*identifying information changed

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