Nejabat, or Safi as he likes to be called, was just eight years old when he became a refugee.
His family picked up their life in Afghanistan – or what few pieces they could bring – and migrated to Pakistan, where they hoped for what every family wants: safety, freedom and ultimately, happiness.
In their darkest times, during the early 1980s, Safi and his family were grateful to receive free, quality health services from our local partner, CWSA - Community World Service Asia (then Church World Service-Pakistan/Afghanistan).
"So, I remember that time, when someone was helping us and our heart was praying for that person. It meant a lot to us, we valued it a lot"
, he says.
Despite his difficult circumstances, Safi had great ambition. Like all of us, he was curious about the world, and wanted to learn and earn a degree, so he could one day provide for his own family.
He completed school and university, both at institutions dedicated to refugees. After his graduation, he joined an international aid agency, but it was a few years later that he saw another job opportunity as a project officer…this time with a cause very close to his heart: CWSA.
“So, I got interested to apply for CWSA, because when I was eight, just in primary school, they were providing very good health services to Afghan refugees in Pakistan. And that was a gift for me and my family. And so, I joined CWSA in 2002, and since then, I am enjoying my work, because I’m providing different kinds of services and support to vulnerable and marginalised communities in Pakistan”, he says.
“Now, I'm enjoying that I can dry the tears of a mother and a child whom are in dire need…from my perspective, if these services did not exist, women and children would not be taken to hospital. They would be left in their homes.”
If CWSA's health services didn't exist, women and children in rural Pakistan may be denied hospital care. Credit: Community World Service Asia / Act for Peace
Safi is now an Associate Regional Director with our partner, CWSA. His story and passion for helping individuals like him and his family is an inspiration to us all.
“Helping the mothers, children, disabled, and those who are in need, and who are ignored by most of the government support. We give hope to the people, give hope to the mothers. So, that is very important for us”.
In his lifetime, Safi has experienced both sides of the coin: living with refugee status, and without. His experience reveals a powerful truth: people with refugee status are just that. People.
While our lived experience and circumstances may vary, at our core, we are all united in our humanity. When we remember this, we can empathise, connect, and care for each other - and we don’t need to experience refugee status to realise that.