23 Mar 2021
By: IOM Greece

N.H. is a 15-year-old boy who was born in Afghanistan. He grew up in a small village, near Kabul, with his 3 brothers. Identification documents were never issued for him or his siblings, and none of them ever had access to medical services or education in their hometown.

His whole family decided to leave Afghanistan 1,5 year ago, due to the ongoing war, the difficult living conditions and extreme poverty they were facing. When he arrived in Chios, on September of 2019, he was all on his own. Throughout this journey, he lost tracks of his family in Turkey, in Iran borders, and “has not heard from them since”. Once he arrived in Chios, he was referred to the Red Cross.

“The goal of my travel was to arrive in a country, where I could feel safe, apply for asylum and start a new life,” he says with hope.

N.H. was hosted in the Safe Area at the Reception and Identification Center of Vial in Chios, operating under the EU funded project MERIMNA (DG HOME), which is implemented by IOM. In the beginning he was isolated, showing symptoms of depression and social withdrawal. During the first months of his arrival, N.H. was feeling a lot of pressure and anxiety and IOM team has developed a specific assistance plan tailored to his needs and most importantly strengths and interests.

“During my time in Safe Area, I discovered that painting was actually the best way for me to express myself and reduce the stress I was experiencing.” In the period that followed, he started sharing his creations with IOM staff, and was receiving a very positive feedback. When asked about his favorite drawing material he replies with certainty “charcoal pencils.”

As he was waiting for the review of his asylum application, regular follow-ups of his asylum case along with weekly support sessions resulted in a significant increase in his self-esteem and brought on more optimism and hope about his future. With the support of the team, he started planning steps in order to achieve his goals and demonstrated increased emotional maturity in relation to several positive comments he received for his work.

N.H. was identified as eligible for relocation in Portugal, which made him very happy. He is already in Portugal ready to continue his life in a new country and follow his art interest. As he says: “I am preparing my greatest work so far…!”

SDG 10 - Reduced Inequalities
SDG 17 - Partnerships for the Goals