Mohammad Afzal came to Bosnia and Herzegovina in August 2018. This 26-year-old has been living on the route for four years now. He left his home country Pakistan for Turkey where he spent two and a half years. Even though he described that migrant camps in that country provide good living conditions, Mohammad decided to move on, not being able to picture himself living in Turkey permanently. He spent a few months in Greece and Serbia, and after came to Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Mohammad's boyhood dream is to reach England, even though there is nobody waiting for him there– no family or friends. He had to leave Pakistan for personal reasons of economic nature, but also because of the poor state in the country. His family stayed in Pakistan, and while he was on the move, according to their traditions, his family engaged him to a woman. This is why he has high hopes to go to England soon, where he hopes his fiancée would join him.
"I started working at the age of 11 at the local pharmacy. That is how I earned the means for my education and managed to graduate the economics at the university. Also, I learned a lot about medicines and developed an affection towards medicine – knowledge that turned out to be very useful not only for myself, but also for many of my countrymen I met in the reception centres on the route.”
"In my country the religion comes first, but my mother always told me, my brothers and sisters, that humanity comes first. That's why I always helped everybody, and then I decided to help myself, I wanted more than Pakistan had to offer, I wanted peace in every sense of the word,” points out Mohammad.
In Reception Centers in Obrenovac (Serbia) and in Thessaloniki (Greece) he helped local medical teams with translation, but also with care for persons with minor injuries or illnesses. In Bihac's Reception Center Bira, Mohammad actively helps the Medical Teams of Primary Health Center Bosanska Krupa and is always welcome in the infirmary.
Mohammed tried to cross the border from Serbia to Croatia 15 times and from Bosnia and Herzegovina 11 times to Croatia. While he does not give up his dream to reach England, after more than a year spent in TRC Bira, Mohammed submitted his asylum application in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
UNHCR has, in cooperation with Danish Refugee Council, and within the project Improving Health Care and Protection of Persons of Interest for UNHCR in Una-Sana Canton, financed by the government of Switzerland, organized expert workshops for medical workers who are in a direct contact with migrants and asylum seekers in Bosnia and Herzegovina, with the focus on stress management and understanding of cultural differences. Mohammad Afzal attended the workshop in Bihac with the medical workers from the local Health centers.
In 1997, Nicole fled Eritrea to avoid military conscription. Her story is a story of female empowerment and strength. Coming to a new country, Nicole had to overcome the challenges of being “othered” due to her birth name, Rahwa.
Mehrdad has been decorating the walls of Temporary Reception Center Bira since March 2019, making them come to life with graffiti and paintings, giving beauty and colour to the facility that is now shelter for him and more than 1500 other persons.
Moayed has been volunteering since day one in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Now, being an asylum seeker for almost a year he has a job and lives independantly in an apartment that he rents.
Ndaishimiye lives his wife and children in their house in Nduta Camp, Tanzania. Back in his country, Burundi, he was asked to teach children about the ruling party, but refused. As a consequence, he was jailed.