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Offline asylumseeker

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Stories of Asylum
« on: August 26, 2012, 04:37:50 PM »
August 25, 2012
In New York, With 6 Weeks to Adapt to America
 
By KIRK SEMPLE
The New York Times
 
TWENTY-FOUR days after he arrived in the United States, Mamadou Fadja Diallo, 13, showed up for summer school in Manhattan looking wary and confused. The building itself was disorienting: big and imposing, with polished floors, nothing like his school back home in Guinea. He was surrounded by students from all over the world. He could not understand a word anyone was saying.

In June, he had left his home in the West African nation with his mother and 12 siblings. The family drove to the airport and flew to New York. None of the children had been on a plane before, and only one could speak any English. They were met by their father, Abdoulaye Diallo, a Muslim imam who had fled Guinea in 2007 and sought asylum in the United States after becoming entangled in his nation’s volatile and violent politics.

That first day of summer school, July 9, began early in the morning, with Mr. Diallo bustling Mamadou and 11 of his siblings, ages 5 to 22, out of their apartment in the Bronx and onto a subway train downtown to Murry Bergtraum High School by the Brooklyn Bridge in Lower Manhattan.

It was a difficult morning. “I was confused because everybody else was understanding what was being said and I wasn’t understanding,” Mamadou recalled, his father translating.

The Diallos were far from alone in their bewilderment. Their classmates were other young immigrants who, to varying degrees, were feeling the same sense of dislocation.

The Refugee Youth Summer Academy, as the program is called, was created for recently arrived refugees and asylum recipients. The academy, started in 1999 by the International Rescue Committee, a refugee resettlement agency based in New York City, tries to help its students find a footing in their new country and prepare them for school.

This year, more than 100 students enrolled in the six-week program, which offered an academic curriculum supplemented by creative-arts classes, field trips and other activities. They hailed from at least 13 countries, including Nepal, Burkina Faso, Iran, Iraq and Cameroon. Some had been in the country for a couple of years; others, like the Diallos, had just arrived. They spoke at least 17 native languages. Some could speak and read English fluently; others could not write their own name in any language. Some had attended school in their home countries; others had never been in a classroom.

If there was any commonality in their experience, it was that their families had been driven from their homelands and were seeking a better life in the United States.

The mixed-race father of two Russian boys was compelled to leave his country after suffering brutal racially motivated attacks.

A Bhutanese family, granted refugee status by the United States, left a Nepalese refugee camp that they had called home for 22 years.

The mother of an Afghan boy had suffered unspeakable treatment by his father and fled with her son to New York, where they live in a shelter for women and children.

THE Diallos arrived late on that first morning. The other students sat at long tables in the cafeteria, mostly silent, nervousness and fear on their faces. They made no eye contact with one another and answered questions from enthusiastic staff members with mumbles or gestures — if they answered at all. One small Tibetan child, a SpongeBob SquarePants knapsack strapped to his back and a fedora on his head, put his chin on the table and seemed to disappear under the hat’s brim.

The students were separated into six classes, grouped by age, school experience and English proficiency. Academic courses were held in the morning, with arts and recreation classes in the afternoon. The lead teachers came from the public school system, assisted by volunteer teachers and counselors, many of whom were college and graduate students in education, and some of whom were alumni of the academy.

Bassirou Kaba, 18, one those alumni volunteers, spoke about the importance of such an environment.

“When I came, I didn’t even know how to introduce myself,” he said. Mr. Kaba, who is now a high school senior, recalled his first few days at the academy two years ago, shortly after he arrived from Abidjan, Ivory Coast, where his father had been murdered in the country’s political violence. “I felt really good here because nobody laughed at me,” he said.

One of the main goals of the academy is to acculturate the students to the American school system. All intend to enroll at schools in New York City next month; but the administrators and teachers tried to set realistic goals.

“I wasn’t going to send them out speaking fluent English,” explained Matthew Tully, the upper school English teacher. “I was going to get them to a place where they could have the confidence to talk.”

The Diallos were spread across five of the six classes, and the faculty initially could not tell how much schooling they had received in Guinea. Most of them spoke at least some French in addition to their native tongue of Fulani, but the two youngest children — Ramatoulaye, 5, and Aissata, 6 — spoke no French and did not know how to hold a pencil or a crayon properly. Ramatoulaye, in a pink frilly dress and gold-colored sandals, spent much of the first day in tears. A few days into the program, the faculty deduced that one of the Diallo brothers in high school was partly deaf.

Mamadou, placed in the junior high class, seemed particularly withdrawn and adrift. He said almost nothing, never raised his hand to answer a question and participated in collective activities only reluctantly. His face was perpetually cast in sternness.

In an English class on the second day, Mr. Tully had all the students stand in front of their desks. “Take a step forward if you like drawing!” he beckoned. The students leapt forward enthusiastically, even those who didn’t speak English. Mamadou, however, did not move and made no attempt to catch up with the others.

The staff at the International Rescue Committee, which provided services to about 1,200 New Yorkers last year, was familiar with most of the families in the program. Many had resettled in the United States with help from the organization. But the Diallos had come to the organization’s attention so recently that staff members had not had time to get to know them. The academy’s teachers were learning on the fly who was sitting in their classrooms.

Mr. Diallo refused to discuss his difficulties in Guinea except to say that the horrors he suffered were sufficient to drive him out of the country, separating him for years from his children. But family members offered a picture of their life back home. They had lived in a large house in Conakry, where, in addition to his religious duties, Mr. Diallo ran a clothing-import business. He had his 13 children with five women.

He settled in New York City in 2007 and petitioned for visas for his children and wife under a law that allows those who have received asylum to bring close family members to the United States. While he waited, Mr. Diallo supported himself and his family in Guinea by working as a dishwasher at an upscale restaurant in SoHo.

On June 15, his children, accompanied by his wife, Oumou, arrived in New York. Several of the children were essentially meeting a stranger: Ramatoulaye was only 2 months old when Mr. Diallo left West Africa. The family moved into a subsidized three-bedroom apartment on the third floor of a walk-up building in the Norwood section of the Bronx, near Van Cortlandt Park.

In an interview, Tiguidanke, 22, Mr. Diallo’s eldest daughter and the only one of his children who did not attend the summer academy, said the transition had been dizzying for many of her younger siblings. It was a little easier for her: She had grown up with her mother and grandmother, away from her siblings, in Sierra Leone, where she learned English and attended college.

“I don’t think most of them know where they are right now,” she said early this month, while sitting on a small couch in the family’s living room. The apartment was otherwise bare, except for a small wooden table with no chairs and several sets of bunk beds. “But they look like they’re coping,” she continued. “They’re getting acquainted.”

AS the summer unfolded, students settled quickly into their routines and the academy’s classroom scenes came to resemble those at a more typical school. Children formed friendships and alliances, sometimes brokered along language and cultural lines. French-speaking Guineans found comfort in the company of French-speaking Cameroonians and Ivorians. Refugees of Tibetan and Bhutanese descent spoke to each other in Nepali.

But teachers also sought to shake up those cultural cliques.

“New class rule: You must sit with someone from a different country,” said a sign posted in one classroom. The sign was later amended to discourage students who spoke the same language from sitting together.

The Diallos adjusted slowly but steadily; their teachers celebrated each breakthrough.

Ramatoulaye, the youngest Diallo, remained mostly quiet for the next few days. But at the end of the first week, she stood up during lunch in the cafeteria and spontaneously started to dance in front of her classmates, said Xuefei Han, an assistant teacher in the lower school.

By the fifth week, she and Aissata, her sister and classmate, had learned their colors and shapes, were talkative and active, and were putting their hands up in class in response to questions — even if they did not know the answer.

Ramatoulaye also started to bicker with another classmate, a Pakistani girl. But Ms. Han said she did not view that development as entirely negative. “Where before they might conceal their emotions,” Ms. Han said, “they now feel more comfortable showing them.”

An older sister, Fatoumata, 10, was also seized by shyness during the first couple of weeks of the academy. But a pivotal moment came during the third week, when she mustered the courage to raise her hand and ask the teacher, in English, if she could use the bathroom.

“It almost made me cry,” recalled Barbara Cvenic, the assistant teacher of Fatoumata’s junior high school class. “This was a victory, having that confidence to ask for something you really need instead of being uncomfortable all day.”

Mamadou remained among the most withdrawn of the academy’s students. But in a soccer match during a field trip to Central Park at the end of the first week, he briefly came alive, aggressively playing both ends of the field and demonstrating deft ball-handling skills. He played without uttering a sound, however — until about 15 minutes into the game, when he burst through a scrum of defenders and blasted a shot past a bewildered goalie.

Mamadou yelled in celebration and sprinted in a victorious semicircle across the field, smiling for the first time all day as his teammates swarmed him in congratulations. “He’s from my country!” another Guinean student, Djely Bacar Kouyate, exclaimed.

Just as suddenly, however, Mamadou’s smile disappeared and he sank into himself, crossing his arms tightly around his body, as if embarrassed by his outburst.


Ms. Cvenic, his assistant teacher, said a particularly significant moment for Mamadou came during the fifth week.

He had been especially reluctant that week to participate in the creative-arts classes, she said. But one day, while the others were taking a dance class, he approached Ms. Cvenic with a book “and gestured for us to read together,” she recalled. This was a boy, she pointed out, who had avoided eye contact with her for the first three weeks.

“I was floored,” she said.

The two sat outside the classroom, and Ms. Cvenic read aloud with him. These sessions became a regular feature of their remaining afternoons.

Sailesh Naidu, the academy’s principal, said these seemingly small steps were “big victories” for the students.

“What they’ve had to battle in order to raise their hand in class, in order to sing a song with their classmates, in order to get up and dance on stage, in order to take an exam, these are huge things that they have to face, and they’re by no means small battles,” Mr. Naidu said. “Every day these victories are meaningful to them in ways that are immeasurable.”

THE academy drew to a close on Aug. 17 with a graduation ceremony. “There will be some tears,” Eleanor Oxholm, the academy’s program coordinator, had predicted several days earlier. Indeed, as the students braced for their transition into other schools, it was also a time of reflection for the teachers.

“Look, they’re going to have a very tough time, but at least they had a soft landing,” said Livia Rurarz-Huygens, an assistant teacher in the upper school, quickly adding: “And it’s not even a soft landing.” The children have had to contend with a new country and with classmates from different cultures speaking different languages, she pointed out. “But at least it’s a more gentle entry,” she said.

All of the academy’s students were planning to attend schools in the city next month. High school students who spoke limited English would probably attend specialized schools for English-language learners. And the International Rescue Committee would work to place primary and junior high school students with limited English in schools with strong programs in English as a second language, Mr. Naidu said.


The organization would also assign academic coaches to more than 70 students and help serve as intermediaries between the students, their schools and their parents.

With “Pomp and Circumstance” playing, and with parents and donors to the program in attendance, the students, hopped up on excitement and graduation-day candy, filed in.

“Coming to a new country, learning a new language, making new friends: That’s really scary,” Mr. Naidu said in a speech to the students. “But you did it.”

Student dance, music and drama performances followed, each punctuated by wild clapping and euphoric hooting by classmates.

The eldest of the Diallos, Thierno, 22, read a poem in French that he had written and presented to Ms. Oxholm. (“He just came up to me one day and said, ‘Miss Eleanor, I wrote this,’ ” she recalled.) Called “Prayer Poem,” it was a paean to the International Rescue Committee and to the enduring hope of the refugee.“The sun is calling its children/To work! To work! To work!” he wrote. “Tomorrow’s rainbow is not unwell./Bless you!”

As the ceremony ended, the students and faculty members clustered in the aisles in a knot of embraces and tears. Even Mamadou shed his usual stoicism and broke down. “When I leave here,” he murmured sadly in French, “I’ll no longer be able to see my friends.” The friends he named were teachers. He tried to hide behind a pair of sunglasses, but he could not stop weeping, digging his fingers behind the frames to drag away the tears.



« Last Edit: August 26, 2012, 04:39:30 PM by asylumseeker »
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Think of the 2022 conversation regarding reparations as the item tabled for future discussion when initially raised for negotiation during talks in 1834. A lot of intere$t has accrued.

Offline FF

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Re: Stories of Asylum
« Reply #1 on: August 26, 2012, 05:35:07 PM »
Very nice post!

I have been fortunate enough to do some volunteer work with the International Rescue Committee here in NY and am familiar with a few of the kids. Some of the kids end up going to the Manhattan International High School, where my company has a Big Brothers Big Sisters Work Place Mentoring Program. The Bhutanese family they mention in the article I know very well as the son is my little brother in the program. Brilliant young man who won a Gates Millenium scholarship this year.

The IRC has a partner organization called Reel Lives that helps the kids make their own documentaries about their lives as a coping mechanism and to have their voices heard.

Check it out here: http://www.reel-lives.org/

Some of the documentaries may be emotional  :'(
THE BEATINGS WILL CONTINUE UNTIL MORALE IMPROVES

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Re: Stories of Asylum
« Reply #2 on: July 15, 2015, 10:51:40 PM »
Rising Star of Syrian Soccer Tells of Perilous Escape From Civil War
By James Montague (The New York Times).


OBERSTAUFEN, Germany — Mohammed Jaddou performs a special trick when the ball is at his feet. On the training field of F.V. Ravensburg, a team that plays in the fifth tier of German soccer, Jaddou, the captain of Syria’s under-16 national team, flicks the ball deftly to his chest, rolling it perfectly up onto his face.

He balances the ball on his lips and kisses it before rolling it back down his body and onto his feet, breaking into a smile reminiscent of that of his hero, Cristiano Ronaldo.

Then Jaddou, 17, repeats the trick, kissing the ball over and over again. Each time, he smiles to himself as the ball rolls back to his feet, as if each trick and each kiss were his first.

Jaddou is not just the rising star of Syrian soccer; he is one of the brightest prospects in Asia. His performances as the team’s captain helped Syria reach the semifinals of the Asian Football Confederation’s under-16 championship last year in Thailand.

That finish — with Syria deeply embroiled in a civil war that has, as of December, according to the United Nations, displaced about 11.6 million people since 2011 — qualified the country for the FIFA Under-17 World Cup, which will be held in Chile this year.
Photo
Mohammed Jaddou lives in Oberstaufen, Germany, with his father, Bilal, left, and his uncle Zakaria, right, along with three other Syrians. Credit Nicholas Roberts for The New York Times.

But Jaddou will not represent Syria at the tournament, which in past years has showcased the likes of Landon Donovan, Cesc Fàbregas and Toni Kroos as stars of the future. Jaddou gave up that dream and is now a refugee, training in a quiet town near Lake Constance after a frightening 3,500-mile journey across land and sea to escape the war.

“I won’t be able to forget it no matter how hard I try,” Jaddou said of the two-month journey that nearly cost him his life. “We saw death with our own eyes.”

A Decision to Leave


Earlier that day, Jaddou was sitting in the kitchen of a modest house in this tiny Bavarian hamlet near the Austrian and Swiss borders, an area famed for its hills, pine forests and hiking trails. He is living here temporarily with his father, Bilal, and his uncle Zakaria, along with three other Syrians who survived similarly perilous journeys.

The six men have temporary asylum status, meaning that during the first three months of their stay they cannot leave the area without asking permission from the German authorities. Jaddou had to first seek official approval to train three evenings a week in Ravensburg, 30 miles away.

There is little to do. The six cook with one another and go for walks. Zakaria spends hours breaking open cigarettes to remove the tobacco and rolling the contents into thinner smokes. “Tobacco is very, very expensive here,” he explained.

Jaddou grew up in Latakia, “the most beautiful city in the world,” he said with pride. By the time he was 8, his talent had been spotted by his local club, Hutteen, which plays in the Syrian Premier League. His performances there earned him a call-up to Syria’s national youth system.

“I stopped giving my school much importance and only cared about playing football,” he said of the brief few years he remembers playing soccer before the civil war began. “I loved football more than I loved my parents.”

As the war began to engulf the country, soccer was increasingly hard to play. Though the Syrian Premier League has managed to continue, FIFA ruled that Syria was too dangerous to host international games. Youth players like Jaddou had to travel from the coast to Damascus along a dangerous stretch of road.

He said that his team bus had been attacked twice and that rebel forces had also threatened him for representing a national team that was seen as aligned with President Bashar al-Assad. (Jaddou’s description of events could not be independently verified by The New York Times.)

“When leaving the training camp, I was threatened by death, threatened by getting sniped or being bombarded by a missile,” he said. “Our football field was also bombarded a couple of times, so we were threatened to die even when we were playing.”

At first, Jaddou thought it was too dangerous even to travel to Damascus. “I was vulnerable to die at any moment on that road,” he said. But he also said that he could not live without soccer.

By the time Syria’s team traveled to Thailand for the Asian under-16 championship, it had already lost one player to the war: 15-year-old Tarek Ghrair, Jaddou’s roommate and best friend, who was killed during a mortar attack in Homs.

Jaddou keeps a picture of Ghrair’s mangled body on his cellphone. “I cried for two days,” he said.

Yet Jaddou excelled in Thailand, leading the team to the semifinals, which meant that it qualified for the Under-17 World Cup. Jaddou was suspended for the semifinal match against South Korea; Syria lost, 7-1.

Upon his return, Jaddou decided that it was time for him to leave. He tried to fly to Germany, a country he had dreamed of playing in since he was a child, but he said he was told at the airport that the entire team was on a no-fly list. Syria’s national soccer association did not reply to requests for an interview.

It was then that Jaddou’s father sold his house, raising the $13,000 needed to pay smugglers to transport Jaddou and the others overland into Turkey and then by boat to Italy. The International Organization for Migration said almost 2,000 people had died in the first four months of this year trying to cross the Mediterranean Sea by boat.

The 70-foot boat was overloaded, with more than 130 passengers — men and women, young and old, healthy and infirm — crammed onto the vessel. Six hours after the boat left the Turkish coast, it began to sink.

“We had to throw everything away — food, clothes and belongings” — to keep the boat afloat, Jaddou said. The men and boys stayed awake to bail water with their hands. “Not even for a second were we able to sleep,” he added. “If we did, we would eventually drown.”

By the time the Italian military spotted the boat, without electricity or a working rudder, off the coast of Sicily, Jaddou had been at sea for five days and five sleepless nights. “That was the third time in which I was so close to die,” he said, “but I survived.”

Like the tens of thousands of migrants and refugees who have landed on Italian soil, Jaddou and his family were processed in a holding camp, fingerprinted and eventually allowed to leave. “We can see around 10,000 people a month arriving,” said Chiara Montaldo, who runs a Doctors Without Borders reception center in Sicily and is aware of Jaddou’s case.

“I stopped giving my school much importance and only cared about playing football,” Jaddou said of the brief few years he remembers playing soccer before the civil war began.

“He is young and had a brilliant future in his country,” she said, “but he had no choice other than to leave.”

Jaddou, his father and uncle traveled north through Italy, avoiding the police until they reached Milan. They slept at the city’s train station before giving the last of their money to a trafficker who agreed to drive them to a refugee center in Munich. From there, they were sent to their current quarters in the hills outside Oberstaufen.

Training in Germany

When the daughter of Oberstaufen’s mayor heard that a young Syrian soccer player was living nearby, she contacted a former Croatian player she knew who owned a bar in town and who also worked as an agent. A few phone calls later, F.V. Ravensburg had invited Jaddou to training.

“We decided to invite him without knowing what to expect,” Markus Wolfangel, the coach of F.V. Ravensburg’s under-19 team, said last month. He said Jaddou surprised the coaches.

“My players were even surprised,” Wolfangel said. “After 15 minutes, one player came to me and said, ‘We should take him for next season.’ ”

Jaddou speaks little German, so during training sessions it is not uncommon for one of his housemates to be summoned onto the field to translate instructions for certain drills. Several Bundesliga clubs have already expressed interest in seeing Jaddou play, but Wolfangel hopes he will choose to play in Ravensburg, at least for now. “We are convinced he will cause a lot of joy for us,” Wolfangel said.

Until then, Jaddou will train. And wait. In a few months, he will have an asylum hearing to decide whether he can stay in Germany. He fears being sent back to Italy, where it could be harder to take the family he has left behind. Jaddou’s mother and two brothers still live in Latakia.

“I want to start as fast as possible so that I can take them away from that place filled with destruction, kidnapping and insults and bring them here to Germany where it is safe,” he said. “It’s probable that I hear of their death any minute now,” he added, expressing a persistent fear that because his “brothers are young, they could be kidnapped easily.”

With training finished for the day, Jaddou was the last player on the field, still with the ball at his feet. He flipped it to his chest, offered it a kiss and rolled it back to the turf. On the 45-minute drive back to his new home, he scrolled through his phone, past the pictures of Latakia, past the pictures of his family, past the body of his former teammate and the portraits of the Syrian team in Thailand last year. He stopped at pictures of Ronaldo, the player he hopes to one day meet and play against.

“If God has it written in my destiny,” he said before putting on his headphones to listen to the Arabic pop music that reminds him of home, “then I might even become better than him.”
« Last Edit: July 15, 2015, 10:56:02 PM by asylumseeker »
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Think of the 2022 conversation regarding reparations as the item tabled for future discussion when initially raised for negotiation during talks in 1834. A lot of intere$t has accrued.

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Re: Stories of Asylum
« Reply #3 on: August 18, 2015, 10:14:48 AM »
Rivalry Is Renewed for Soccer Final in West Bank as Restrictions Are Eased
By Diaa Hadid and Rami Nazzal (The New York Times).




HEBRON, West Bank — As a member of the Palestinian national soccer team, Alaa Attiyah has traveled the world, playing in more than 20 countries, including Nepal, China, Iran and Norway.

But for years, Mr. Attiyah, a 24-year-old who also plays for the leading club team in Gaza, had been unable to make the journey of a few dozen miles to the West Bank.

Israel has restricted travel in and out of Gaza since the outbreak of the intifada in 2001, as officials sought to prevent attackers from reaching Israeli-controlled areas. For Mr. Attiyah, this has meant declining offers to play for leading clubs here, and has prevented him from representing the national team in games played in the West Bank. He said he has tried more than a dozen times to obtain permission to cross Israel and enter the West Bank, without luck.

“As a soccer player, I don’t know why I’m considered dangerous,” Mr. Attiyah said.

But on Friday night, Mr. Attiyah and his team, Ittihad Shejaiya, were allowed to come to the West Bank to play in the final of the Palestine Cup, the first time the competition between the best teams from Gaza and the West Bank had been played in 15 years.



Thousands of fans attended the game, chanting support for both Ittihad Shejaiya and the team from Hebron, Ahli al-Khalil.

“Shejaiya is on fire!” the fans roared, as Ittihad Shejaiya took possession of the ball. Then the crowd burst into chants of “Ahli! Ahli! Ahli!” as the Hebron club appeared poised to score. Men and boys banged on protective metal gates separating the bleachers from the field, showering the crowd with sparkling fireworks and hurling glittery confetti.

For many, the fact that the Palestine Cup final was being played offered a rare celebratory moment in which Palestinians from the two flanks of a hoped-for future state could meet.

“I support both teams!” said one spectator, Mohammad Yahya, 34. “It’s one country, and both will represent Palestine if they win,” he said, grinning, before the game. “It’s a celebration for Palestine, for all of us.”

The restrictions on travel to and from Gaza were tightened after Hamas won Palestinian elections in 2006, and again after it seized control of Gaza in 2007, pushing out fighters loyal to the rival Fatah party. They have since been loosened somewhat. The Israeli restrictions meant that the Palestine Cup was not held for 15 years; each territory’s clubs play in separate leagues, but they are meant to face each other for the final.

The game Friday was the result of a long lobbying effort by Palestinians seeking to highlight Israeli restrictions on their freedom, part of a wider effort to hold Israel accountable for its treatment of Palestinians in international forums. One such effort, a campaign led by a Palestinian politician, Jibril Rajoub, to get FIFA, world soccer’s governing body, to suspend Israel’s membership, caused great distress in Israel, where soccer is a passion for many.

In May, Israel agreed to ease the passage of soccer players in and out of Gaza, remove tariffs on the import of sports equipment and help build fields and other facilities in the West Bank and Gaza Strip after Mr. Rajoub dropped his bid to suspend Israel from the soccer body. FIFA voted to form a committee to ensure Israel’s commitments. That allowed Hebron’s Ahli al-Khalil team to travel to Gaza for the first leg of the final, a scoreless tie on Aug. 6 that seemed to many like a national celebration.

“This game is like a national wedding party, and the bride and groom are in love,” Abdul-Latif Rafati said during the game in the Yarmouk Stadium in Gaza City, packed with 8,000 cheering spectators.

For many Palestinians, the games represent an important show of unity amid a political division between the two Palestinian territories that has lasted years. Hamas rules Gaza, and in the West Bank, Palestinians are governed by the Palestinian Authority. They are led by President Mahmoud Abbas, who leads Fatah, Hamas’s chief political competitor. Hamas fighters ousted Fatah from Gaza in 2007, and the sides have never reconciled, despite years of sputtering efforts, further complicating the Palestinians’ hopes of statehood.

The game Friday had been delayed several days by last-minute wrangling between Israeli and Palestinian officials over security searches for some on the 37-member Gaza team. But when the players arrived, they were treated as national heroes.

Local news media followed them as they left Gaza early Wednesday, first traveling to Jerusalem to pray in the Al Aqsa Mosque, Islam’s third holiest site, before heading to Hebron, stopping repeatedly to pose for photographs with beaming officials and residents, who gave them red roses.

For the Shejaiya players — and many of the Palestinians cheering them on — just making it to the final was a triumph. Their neighborhood in eastern Gaza was one of the most heavily hit during the devastating war with Israel last summer, and more than a year later, parts of Shejaiya are still a battered mess of patched-up houses and destroyed buildings.

“We have arisen from under the rubble,” Naeem Sweirki, the Shejaiya coach, said before the match. “This game for us — for Shejaiya, is historical,” he said. “We are from a neighborhood that was completely destroyed during the last war.”

The show of support for Gaza was clear in the game. Men banged on tablas to cheer on Shejaiya, the thrumming drowning out the wheezing rendition of the Palestinian national anthem played by a red-and-black clad military band. One man exclaimed to another: “By God, Shejaiya doesn’t have so many supporters at home!”

“This is the least we can do to show our solidarity with our people in Gaza,” said Hazem Imam, a soccer coach from Hebron, who switched his soccer allegiances for the evening. “I’ll sit in the area for the Shejaiya fans,” he said with a smile. “Of course, I’ll respect Ahli, too,” he hastily added, referring to the Hebron team.

The home team Ahli al-Khalil won, 2-1. Mr. Attiyah scored the Gaza club’s only goal. The Hebron players wildly ran around the field in celebration. Fans roared, banging drums; others danced. The Shejaiya players fell on the turf of the stadium, weeping.

Soon, the fans began chanting in consolation: “With our souls! With our blood! We will sacrifice for you, Shejaiya!”

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Think of the 2022 conversation regarding reparations as the item tabled for future discussion when initially raised for negotiation during talks in 1834. A lot of intere$t has accrued.

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Re: Stories of Asylum
« Reply #4 on: September 04, 2015, 10:56:21 AM »
Bundesliga clubs step up in refugee crisis
Deutsche Welle




The refugee crisis is sweeping across Europe and while many governments stall in their search for answer, German football clubs have shown incredible generosity in their attempt to help those searching for a new home.

German football has long been hailed as one of the few remaining leagues where the focus is still put on people rather than money. Over the last few weeks, that focus has extended well beyond the terraces of their own stadiums as the majority of Germany's top-flight clubs have extended their arm to offer support and respite to the millions of refugees currently looking for a new home. With help from an article on Vice Sports Germany here is a look at what Bundesliga clubsare doing to make a difference.

On September 3, Bayern Munich released a statement saying they would be providing over a million euros for refugee projects, as well as offer training camps, German classes and food. Last weekend, in their home game against Leverkusen the following banner was seen at Bayern's ground, showing the message: "Stirring up hatred against broke Greeks and refugees. The problem is called racism. [Get] racism out of minds."

At the end of August, Borussia Dortmund invited 220 refugees to watch their Europa League qualifier second leg against Odds BK as part of the city's "Angekommen in Dortmund" (Arriving in Dortmund) campaign. The focus of the initiative is to overcome barriers, make sure help arrives and that refugees settle in Dortmund. That number, according to an article from English newspaper "The Independent" is more than the number of Syrians than the UK government has welcomed through its refugee relocation scheme. On top of that, "leuchte auf" (Light Up) is a club project that focuses on social issues and that, like the club motto, aims to deliver true love.

Rival club Schalke has also been busy. Having invited 100 refugees to their opening home game of the season, they also founded the idea of the "Kumpel-Kiste" (friend's box) where clothes and toys can be sent to refugees. Recently, Schalke also released a video that showed club legend Gerald Asamoah talking about the importance of understanding what it is to be a human and that uniting in defiance is the way to achieve a great deal. Dortmund responded, saying "separated by colors, but united on this."

Other Bundesliga clubs have also been involved. Werder Bremen has founded a "Bleib am Ball" (Stay on the Ball) project to help refugees in the region, while both Hannover and Hoffenheim have delivered kits and shoes to help. Ingolstadt are working with a school in their region to combat racism and Cologne has continued their long-standing work with refugee groups, citing "football unites people." With a similar focus, Stuttgart is working with the club's own initiative program and the city theatre to help those in need.

Leverkusen have started a project called "Bayer 04 macht Schule" (Bayer 04 does school) where the focus is on helping refugee children take the steps to join a club. Of the 42,000 euros ($47,000) the club collected from their "Spiel der Herzen" (Game of the heart) charity project, 14,000 euros was given to the city's refugee council. Even second division sides have shown their generosity. Fortuna Düsseldorf invited 150 refugees to their game against Freiburg, while earlier in the year, Dynamo Dresden offered 300 tickets for a league game as part of a further welcome campaign.

Dresden's chairman Robert Schäfer posted a statement on the club website stating: "Hospitality, respect and openness towards asylum seekers follows directly on from sporting values held by our teams. Refugees come to us because they are persecuted in their homelands for their beliefs and fear for life and limb at home. As sports clubs, we want to show these people that after all they have suffered, they are welcome in our midst."

Last year, a collective campaign saw "refugees welcome" signs in a host of football stadiums across Germany. Support is gathering on social media to try and organise something similar in England.

Germany's national team also released a video to show their stance against violence and racism, with team manager Oliver Bierhoff stating the team were keen to send a message.

While of course, none of these efforts can be seen as permanent solutions to thousands of problems, it does show that even in a world where money and status are inflated beyond comprehension, a helping hand is still being offered.

A related link.
« Last Edit: September 04, 2015, 11:00:43 AM by asylumseeker »
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Re: Stories of Asylum
« Reply #5 on: September 05, 2015, 10:22:50 AM »
good thread.

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Re: Stories of Asylum
« Reply #7 on: September 09, 2015, 10:38:06 AM »
Soccer clubs extend hand, help in refugee crisis
By Kevin Baxter (Los Angeles Times).


World soccer has taken note of the burgeoning refugee crisis in Europe and the Middle East and is pledging to help, with two of Europe's biggest clubs reaching deep into their wallets to make donations. And at least one of those teams is calling on others to help as well.

AS Roma of Italy's Serie A donated nearly $650,000 Tuesday to launch a program called "Football Cares," which seeks to raise money and awareness about the issue. The club and Roma President Jim Palotta gave about $280,000 each, with the rest of the money coming from Roma investors.

And last week, German champion Bayern Munich pledged to donate $1.1 million to relevant charitable programs after thousands of people -- most of them fleeing conflicts in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan -- poured into Germany. Hundreds wound up huddled in a Munich train station seeking assistance.

In announcing its donation, AS Roma challenged other clubs and fans around the world to participate and donate. Money raised will be funneled to the U.N. Refugee Agency, the International Rescue Committee, Save the Children and the Red Cross.

Italian rivals Fiorentina, Bologna and Torino as well as Italy's Lega Serie A and Serie B already have signed on in support.

"After seeing the images coming out of Europe and the Middle East last week, we felt that AS Roma had to do much more. And we welcome that challenge and responsibility," Pallotta said in a statement.

"Our approach is a bit different, however, in that we want to create a platform to connect the entire football community under the 'Football Cares' banner. We believe we can achieve more together than we can on our own. The culture of football is built on rivalry, but there is also a massive worldwide opportunity in football for unity to make an even greater impact."

"Football Cares" will raise money for the charities through a donation page and an all-club auction site. On Tuesday, the club said it had put up for auction game-worn jerseys from Francesco Totti, Edin Dzeko and Miralem Pjanic.

Visit http://www.footballcares.info/ to make a donation to "Football Cares."

Visit http://www.charitystars.com/foundation/footballcares to bid on an item up for auction.

In Germany, which expects to receive 800,000 asylum-seekers this year, Bayern Munich will set up a training camp where it will offer meals and German-language classes to children. In addition,  the team's players will take the field hand-in-hand with refugee children before Saturday's match with Augsburg.

"FC Bayern sees it as a social responsibility to help those fleeing and suffering children, women and men. To support and accompany them in Germany," team CEO Karl-Heinz Rummenigge said.

Two other Bundelsiga teams -- Borussia Dortmund and Mainz -- also promised to help. Dortmund, which issued a statement saying Germany needs and should welcome the migrants, invited 200 refugees to attend a game last week as the club's guests. Mainz also welcomed refugees to a game.
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Re: Stories of Asylum
« Reply #9 on: September 24, 2015, 04:46:48 AM »
Bayern Munich fans pay tribute to Syrian refugee Nawf Satteh
Deutsche Welle


The 30-year-old is one of more than 2,000 refugees killed in the Mediterranean Sea. She had a binding love for one thing in particular: Bayern Munich. Fans had called for a mark of respect before the match on Tuesday.



Bayern Munich fans around the globe are paying tribute to Nawf Kamil Satteh. The 30-year-old is one of thousands of refugees to flee war-torn Syria and make the perilous journey to Europe. Along with her sister Mary, Nawf drowned Sunday on the crossing between Turkey and Greece in the Mediterranean Sea.

Nawf was part of a Christian minority near the city of Homs and fled in fear of persecution from the Islamic State. She had acquired a university degree in English literature.



She was influential in broadening Bayern's connections with other corners of the globe, setting up a fan club for Syrian-based fans. They would organize meetings in cafes even with the country ravaged by conflict. The fan club became part of Bayern's network of organizations in January, its official member number was 99905108.

Her Facebook page, which has not been deactivated, is full of photos from her favorite team, especially for Sebastian Schweinsteiger, for whom she posted several poems in honor of his success. According to people who knew Nawf, her one dream was to see Bayern Munich play in the Allianz Arena.

Bayern Munich fans had been calling for a minute's silence at Tuesday's league match against Wolfsburg as a mark of respect, while others have used Twitter to create the hashtag #RIP_Nawf and #MiaSanMiaNawf.

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Re: Stories of Asylum
« Reply #10 on: September 24, 2015, 10:41:03 AM »

Quote
The humanitarian crisis in Europe is showing no sign of easing, with thousands of refugees and migrants continuing to arrive at the EU's borders every day.

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Re: Stories of Asylum
« Reply #11 on: September 27, 2015, 08:24:35 AM »
Roberto Hilbert: 'Racism has grown in Germany'
Deutsche Welle


Monkey chants, insults hurled from the stands, personal attacks: Racism in sport is a big problem and for Bayer Leverkusen's defender Roberto Hilbert, the problem is even more personal.

Roberto Hilbert plays for Bayer Leverkusen. The 30-year-old began his career at Stuttgart before moving to Turkey in 2010. Two years ago, he returned to the Bundesliga. Hilbert is also involved in projects against right-wing extremism, and is a part of the 'Show Racism the Red Card' campaign, as well as the sponsor of the Hannah charity, which helps children who have been subject to abuse.



DW: Roberto Hilbert, you were recently appointed refugee representative at Leverkusen. What are your tasks?

Roberto Hilbert: It's well known that we are taking in a lot of refugees at the moment, or that many are coming to Germany. A club like Leverkusen is ready to help these people 100 percent, to make life easier for them and make sure they are happy. With clothing and food donations, the club is trying to support them and give them a welcome feeling here.

You are personally affected by this topic as your wife comes from Eritrea. How have you and your family dealt with the situation?

It's a huge topic at home. Around the corner from us, refugees have been put up in a sports hall. One of my sons, who is at the school who offered the hall, has experienced it first hand and we talk about it as a family. My wife also arrived as a refugee and knows what it is like to flee home because of war. The current Germany-born generation isn't even aware of these dangers.

What kind of experiences has your wife had in Germany?

Sadly, there have been plenty of people who have insulted my wife and my children as "damned negros". Once on an airplane, my daughter was crying and the man sat in front of my wife, said "negros" would only drink alcohol and bring disease to the country, and that screaming children of "negros" are a "catastrophe." These are sadly experiences that my family has had to endure.


'Show Racism the Red Card' is the campaign that Hannover 96, amongst other Bundesliga clubs, is involved in here

Did this incident change your family?

I was very shocked and felt it particularly terrible that my wife was left alone in this situation. No one else on the plane helped - the opposite in fact! The steward even asked my wife to move seats. There are people who insult foreigners, but I think it is worse not to help a woman with three children. It's very upsetting she was left alone in this situation.

So there's a lack of social courage?

I can understand people who aren't brave. There have sadly been enough negative examples where people have shown social courage and lost their life as a result. I still think more people can intervene against an individual though.

How difficult is it for a foreigner to find their feet in Germany?

It's not easy. I have a lot of Turkish friends in Germany who haven't fully been accepted in Turkey or Germany. I struggle to understand that. I think if someone is born in Germany then their origin, skin or hair color is irrelevant. They grow up here, adapt and accept the culture, then how can they not be accepted by society?

You played for Besiktas in Turkey between 2010 and 2013. You were a foreigner there. What differences did you note when you returned to Germany two years later?

Honestly, when I returned after three years in Turkey I was shocked at how racism had developed here. In terms of xenophobia, things have got worse. I was never insulted as a foreigner in Turkey, but I should add that my wife and children picked up Turkish relatively quickly. We couldn't speak the language perfectly, but could communicate well. That was greatly appreciated by the people of Turkey and we were accepted as we were.


Roberto Hilbert found his time in Turkey to be one without insults towards his origin

A football team is full of different people from different countries and cultures. Why does racism remain such an issue?

This is an excellent question, and one that I too have considered. I have yet to find an answer because I can't understand it. When I look at our team for example, we have Brazilians, Mexicans, Greeks, Germans and players from Turkey - there are a lot of cultures that come together. The players are celebrated in the stadium and then insulted as foreigners on the streets. It just doesn't make any sense.

Following the news and the burning of refugee accommodation, how do you feel about it all?

I find it harrowing. I simply cannot understand how people can act that way. You have to remember there are people in that house and if they die then that's on your conscience. A great deal has to have gone wrong in your life to accept having someone on your conscience. With all due respect, I cannot understand that.

How do you see the topic of refugees continuing?

I hope that it develops in a positive direction. I think our politicians are doing a great deal to handle the matter. I think it is not a Germany problem though, but a European problem. The European countries should work together to find a solution. People should be spread out and welcomed so as to make it possible for them to start again anew. They have to have the chance to lead a normal life again.

This interview was conducted by Thomas Klein.
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Re: Stories of Asylum
« Reply #14 on: December 03, 2016, 02:47:42 PM »
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Re: Stories of Asylum
« Reply #15 on: November 28, 2021, 06:05:10 AM »
Crash kills Redondo Beach couple who helped Darfur refugees gain independence through soccer
By Kevin Baxter, Los Angeles Times


Souleyman Adam Bourma was 17 when he sought refuge in the sprawling Goz Amer refugee camp in eastern Chad, home to more than 250,000 Darfuris who have fled war in their homeland.

For half his life Bourma, once a farmer, has known no life beyond the camp’s boundaries — and had little reason to believe he ever would. Then he found soccer. Or more appropriately, soccer found him when Gabriel Stauring and Katie-Jay Scott, two South Bay activists, showed up in Goz Amer with a soccer ball.

Bourma is among 22,000 refugees in 20 countries, from Chad and Tanzania, to Greece and the Central African Republic, who saw their lives changed since Stauring and Scott launched the Refugees United Soccer Academy in 2013. Now the future of that program is uncertain after a fatal four-car traffic accident Tuesday in Manhattan Beach that took the lives of Stauring, Scott and an elementary school principal, Christian Mendoza.

“A measure of what they left behind is the hundreds of people who’ve reached out to us in the last 24 hours and just said ‘What can I do?’” said Ben Grossman, a member of the board for iACT, the nonprofit organization Stauring and Scott founded to fund work like Refugees United.

“They did so many things that didn’t have a formal title,” Grossman said. “They would consult on massively important projects, some of which they couldn’t talk about because they were so dangerous.”

Burgeoning crises all over the world led many humanitarian organizations to move on from Darfur, the western Sudan region that was the flashpoint for a war and ethnic cleansing against mostly poor non-Arab Sudanese that began nearly two decades ago. But Stauring and Scott stayed, doubling down on their work with the Refugees United Soccer Academy and other programs such as the Little Ripples childhood development program.

“We chose to go to the difficult places, the forgotten places,” said Stauring, who was 55. “Everyone left Darfur and we said we’re not going to leave.”

Stauring first visited Darfur in 2005 and returned 31 times to work with refugees, many of whom were born in the camps. He met Scott in Portland, where she was doing advocacy work on Darfur. When she asked to join the fledgling aid program he had created he agreed, providing she could raise her own salary.

She did, accompanying Stauring to Africa for the first time in 2008, a trip that was interrupted by an attempted coup. Two years later they were married and settled in Redondo Beach, where they marked their 11th wedding anniversary in September by holding an iACT fundraiser.

Stauring and Scott, who grew up in Mexico and played college soccer at the University of North Carolina-Wilmington, introduced the sport to the camps in 2012, taking Team Darfur, a squad of adult Sudanese men, including Bourma, to an international tournament.

The men struggled on the field but the concept took hold, so a year later the couple launched an academy for children. And while they kept their promise to never leave Darfur, they did expand the program to Burundian refugees in Tanzania, Central Africans in Cameroon and thousands of others in need, work that was organized and administered by a Southern California-based staff of five with an annual budget of less than $1 million.

The academies, designed to accommodate up to 2,000 children who train or play for 60 to 90 minutes a day, five to six days a week, are primarily aimed at boys and girls 6-13. Next March, 10 girls between the ages of 13 and 17 were scheduled to travel to the Street Child World Cup in Qatar where teams representing 21 countries will compete in a 7-on-7 tournament while learning to advocate for themselves on issues such as access to education and other basic needs. That trip is now uncertain following Tuesday’s accident.

What Stauring and Scott, who was 40, lacked in financial resources they more than made up through the commitment and passion they inspired.

“They made the world better. They made me better,” said Alecko Eskandarian, a former professional soccer player and ethnic Armenian who was working with iACT to bring a soccer program to his war-ravaged homeland. “How they essentially seek out people who need help, to see their passion, their selflessness was almost too good to be true.

“It’s such a tremendous loss for all of us. If you had more people like that who were just willing to drop everything to go help others, we’d be in a much better place.”

Taking soccer to refugee camps where food, clean water and housing are in short supply might seem like a case of misplaced priorities, but it was the opposite. Not only was the game cheap and easy to organize, but it taught skills like teamwork and built traits like confidence and self-esteem. It also empowered girls and the women who coached them to make decisions for themselves.

“It changed my life totally because I learned more important things like respect, truth, relationships,” said Bourma, a Refugees United coach and coordinator who experienced unimaginable violence during the height of the conflict in Darfur. “I became part of the world. For me, soccer is the future of Darfuri children.”

A recent grant from the UEFA Foundation for the Children was to fund academies in four more camps, increasing the global reach of a program that started when Stauring and Scott took a single soccer ball to a dusty corner of eastern Chad nine years ago. That expansion has been put on hold as iACT’s board figures out how to replace its irreplaceable leaders.

“They were the lifeblood of it. They were great people. They were passionate. They gave great hugs, physically and philosophically. You just wanted to he around them,” Grossman said of Stauring and Scott, who leave behind a 9-year-old daughter, Leila Paz, and an 18-year-old son, Gabo, and 25 year-old daughter, Noemi.

“They would want it to go on. They worked too hard and touched too many lives to just have it end now.”





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Re: Stories of Asylum
« Reply #16 on: February 05, 2022, 08:11:11 AM »
Afghanistan women’s football team reunite with hopes of competing in Australia
By Joey Lynch, The Guardian (UK)


For the first time since fleeing their home and finding sanctuary in Australia, the team are taking their battle for equality onto the field

Early on a suitably idyllic Melbourne morning, 18 Afghan footballers and one referee took to the field at the Darebin International Sports Centre. The group were training under the banner of their nation’s women’s team for the first time since being forced to flee their homeland last August. It was an innocuous session, featuring the warm-ups, drills and team talks replicated at grounds around the world.

But there was a palpable sense of joy on display. Though a few have played games here and there since they were granted asylum, Saturday’s session was the first time the team – which was “built to fight” the Taliban’s ideology – had joined together since they sat on the floor of a crowded plane as it took off from Hamid Karzai airport, fleeing Kabul alongside more than 75 other players, relatives and team officials.

On that day, their existence as female footballers had made them a target; their safety could not be assured as the Taliban seized control of the country and reimposed their strict interpretation of Sharia law. But on Saturday, there were no such threats, no fears of what awaited them when they went home or if they would be forced to suddenly flee the field.

The session represented the beginning of a new chapter – spearheaded by former captain Khalida Popal and current player Fati* – and it is planned they will return to competitive football in their new home of Australia within months. From this foundation, the players hope to mount a case to return to international football by pressuring Fifa and governments around the world to ensure the principles of gender equality are upheld as the Taliban attempts to ban women from playing sport in Afghanistan.

“I was with my teammates, my second family,” Fati said after the training session. “The feeling was amazing. I can’t even describe it. I never thought that we would be together again and play together. But this is hope. It’s a new beginning. It’s a big achievement for all my teammates. Because once we thought we lost everything, we’d lost soccer, we’d lost our second family. And today we got it back. We saw each other after a long time. We played together. That is very precious for all of us. The day was even beautiful for all of us.”

“It was fantastic,” Frida* added. “I feel like everything has started again. We have a chance to play together again.”

In partnership with A-League club Melbourne Victory, which will supply the team with full logistical, administrative and coaching support from their football operations department, the team will spend the coming weeks and months training in anticipation of entering one of the local competitions overseen by Football Victoria.

Victory provided the players with brand new training gear and boots for their first unified session on Australian soil, but the offer of a club-branded training top was declined. The players wanted to wear their national team shirts.

The session was taken by Football Victoria NTC coach Helen Winterburn, and federation assessors were on hand to begin the process of determining which level would provide the best fit for the coming season.

Former Socceroos captain and human rights campaigner Craig Foster, who played a key role in securing the fleeing Afghan footballers’ sanctuary in Australia, said it was imperative that the side be allowed, when they were ready, to represent their nation.

“[The players have] made it very clear that they consider themselves the Afghan women’s national team,” Foster said. “And though they’re in exile, they should have the right to continue that.

“Fifa has a gender equality provision, and as part of membership of the Global Football body, countries are in a position where they have to, or they’re expected to, field women’s national teams. The Taliban, as the rulers of Afghanistan now, have refused to do that. So the question for Gianni Infantino and Fifa is: what are you going to do about it? Are you going to allow Afghanistan to only field men’s teams?

“If you are a member of Fifa, you must field female and male teams. Therefore, this is the Afghan women’s national team, and they should have the right to continue to play. Whilst they don’t abide by the Taliban’s ideology, they are extremely proud Afghan women. And they see themselves as the Afghan women’s national team in exile, and rightly so.

“They are a symbol for every Afghan girl and woman, both in Afghanistan and around the world. For their right to equal participation in society, whether that’s education, sport, or any other field of life. So every time they kick the ball Afghan women around the world can see a living symbol of the rights that this group refuses to give up.”

“Still I have hopes for our national team,” added Fati. “Me, my friends and my teammates still have hopes for a future in which we will play back under our beautiful flag. This is important. But even if it’s not with the national team, it will be OK. Because we will be together.”





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Re: Stories of Asylum
« Reply #17 on: February 06, 2022, 07:44:06 AM »
‘We play to forget what happened’: football’s refuge for girls who fled atrocities
By Nick Ames, The Guardian (UK)


Lucy  is the team’s captain, so she looks after the ball. Her family’s house is about 10 minutes’ walk from the pitch: it is one of the more established dwellings in Minawao, a permanent structure largely screened behind a high mud wall. She greets her mother, who is sitting outside with an aunt, in Hausa before disappearing inside. Once she has retrieved what she came for, the day’s training can begin. “We play football with our friends to ease our minds,” she says. “That’s why they give girls this ball to play with: to forget about what happened to us.”

This could barely seem further from Yaounde, where the Africa Cup of Nations final will take place on Sunday. We are 500 miles away in Cameroon’s extreme north region, tropical greenery having given way to the parched fringes of the Sahel.

For almost a decade it has been one of the most troubled areas on earth, haunted by unspeakable atrocities. Minawao is a refugee camp that opened in 2013 to provide safety for thousands of Nigerians who have fled, and continue to flee, from the Islamist terror group Boko Haram. The border is only 20 miles away but life is relatively calm here. For those who made it this far, the process of rebuilding can begin.

Access to Minawao is heavily restricted but, with assistance from the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), the Guardian spent a day in the camp with its girls’ football team. Twenty players, aged between 15 and 19, train five times a week on a dry, flat area of ground in front of the settlement’s youth centre. The team was formed to ensure girls could play despite a male-dominated environment and its sessions are overseen by Modu, a stern but affectionate 35-year-old who coached a school side in his village before the terrorists forced him to join Minawao’s first influx of arrivals. He leads warm-ups and then, when everybody has loosened, begins a series of passing drills. “If a girl wants to play, she only has to come to me and she’ll be training with us the next day,” he says.

Football has become part of life’s fabric for these players. It is a source of pride and certainty when, here of all places, there is little of the latter. Occasionally Modu can take the team to play friendlies outside the camp; recently they travelled 15 miles to Mokolo to face opponents from other nearby communities. “We win most of the time,” Lucy says matter-of-factly. “We won a cup and shared the prizes,” adds her vice-captain, Fayiza. “I will never forget that day in my life.”

Each of Minawao’s 69,000 inhabitants has lived their own version of a horrifying shared history. Lucy was only nine when her village in Borno state, Kunde, was raided by Boko Haram.

“They arrived and started killing people,” she says. “We hid in a cave at night and it was impossible to sleep. They were holding guns and we were so afraid of them. I lost my uncle and many other people died. We had to run.”

Fayiza, too, experienced things nobody should have to endure. “We saw people in our village running and some were falling down, the attackers were shooting them,” she says. “We ran away and, after they had finished fighting, we went back. After about a month they returned, killing men but not women. The women were saying: ‘How can we live a life without men, who go to their jobs and provide for the family?’ We left again and they followed, and it went on for about a year like this. Then the people from UNHCR met us, took our names and drove us to Minawao.”

The camp’s population continues to swell. Boko Haram remain active in Nigeria and there have been attacks in the far north of Cameroon in the past year. Refugees are repatriated when it is deemed safe to do so but some people choose to return, finding Minawao’s security and familiarity preferable to the desolated areas they left behind. Resources are under heavy strain in an area where rivers have run dry and vegetation is feeling the effects of pressure on the terrain.

“We have a problem with livelihood,” says Luka Isaac, who is the refugees’ president and leads their discussions with organisations who are active in the camp. “Only about 25% of people here are economically active. The majority of them were farmers but we need more land from the government. Food supplies arrive every month but if people can work, and stand on their two feet, it will give them resilience.”

People with existing areas of expertise such as the cheery Andrews, who runs a seven-strong bakery operation that produces the camp’s bread in a giant clay oven, are encouraged to resume their career where possible. In another corner of the camp, women are trained to make and sell ecological charcoal.

Most of the girls’ team are still in school, but Lucy is 18 and starting to make a living by sewing headwear. She hopes to become a doctor – “so that if you are ill you come to me and I’ll treat you” – while Fayiza wants to be a news journalist. Isaac emphasises that role models of any kind are vital for Minawao’s young women and believes football has a part to play.

“Watching footballers around the world, people want to be like them,” he says. “It makes them want to play. It’s the same if you watch actors in films. These recreational activities keep us awake, give us good aspirations, because you think of the future and not what happened in the past. Everyone has their own star.”

The sentiment is important even if, in practice, a straw poll of the team’s favourite player brings one answer. Sitting around a table in the small, spare library building a stone’s throw from the pitch, the team shout Ahmed Musa’s name in unison. The former Leicester player has deity-like status in Nigeria and, thrillingly, they were able to watch him play last month. Tickets were arranged for them to watch the Super Eagles face Sudan in Garoua, a four-hour drive away, during the Cup of Nations group stage. As their friends in Minawao watched via a satellite link, they posed for a photograph on the pitch. “I never thought I would be able to see these players in my whole life,” Fayiza says. For the players, as well as the accompanying Modu and Isaac, it was a first-ever stadium visit.

When we meet Nigeria have long since been eliminated from the tournament, but the team are behind Cameroon, who are about to make their ultimately unsuccessful bid for a place in the final. “We cannot forget Nigeria because it’s our country, but we grew up here,” Lucy says.

Back on the training pitch, they try to re-enact their heroes’ moves. It is tough: Modu’s team wear shirts intended for a boys’ team and most play in slip-on sandals. “Equipment is a problem for us,” Modu says. “We often get injuries because the girls don’t have proper shoes, and sometimes they’ll even draw blood. They often tell me we need more jerseys, more shoes.”

Should those ever arrive, the hope is that future footballers in Minawao will benefit. “These girls are pioneers,” says Moise Amedje, one of UNHCR’s representatives in the region. “They are paving the way for the next generation.” They may not become professional players and they should not have to manage the pain barrier to play at all, but football has given Lucy and her friends a reason to look forward.
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Think of the 2022 conversation regarding reparations as the item tabled for future discussion when initially raised for negotiation during talks in 1834. A lot of intere$t has accrued.