Manila Ghafuri

Basically I feel at home in Denmark, but it does affect me when I feel I am being labelled as a foreigner. Last year when I saw all the refugees on the motorways in Denmark, something happened inside of me. It took me back in time. I became aware that I have a refugee voice, and I decided to use it.

It was during one of the worst snowstorms in 20 years that my parents, seven siblings and myself fled Afghanistan. My mother and father carried the little ones. Sometimes we had to dig ourselves into the ground to keep warm. We crossed rivers, we had to be quiet all the time. The human smugglers wanted to give my little sister some pills because she cried, and if people were slow, they threw their things away. In Poland we got separated, and it wasn’t until 18 months later that we got back together again. This is now 15 years ago, but it still influences us all.

By leaving our homeland, we toyed with our destiny. The insecurity which came along with the flight and the separation still marks us today, even though the whole family is together and our future in Denmark is safe. So I see it as my duty to speak on behalf of the ones who do not have the strength. Like when I see a documentary about a 16-year- old strong and well-integrated girl whose life is slowly falling apart because she still doesn’t know, after six years in Denmark, if she and her family will be returned to Afghanistan. I have to interfere. I have to speak out against a system which breaks down people and turns children into adults far too soon, because I know how devastating it can be.

23 years / female / single / Danish student at the University / Vanløse / from Afghanistan / came to Denmark in 2001 / residence permit in 2003