They found love in their shared Christian faith. But it was a secret faith - by necessity in conservative Iran - and they could not have imagined what would happened when their secret was discovered.
Now this formerly successful couple, blessed with a 5-year-old son, shares a single unadorned room in Jakarta, Indonesia, living on charity and barely getting by. We can help give them their future back.
Name: Samira Hasani
Profile: Religious refugee from Iran living with her husband Babak and son Barbis, in Jakarta, Indonesia
Friends: Michelle Bonner in Sydney, Australia. Stephen Watt in Toronto
Advantages: UNHCR certified, excellent English skills, educated, FULL FUNDING for private sponsorship.
Risks: Arrest and possible execution upon return to Iran
Samira was born in Iran, and studied law. She worked as a lawyer - her dream job - until harshly oppressive and misogynistic nature of Iranian law led her to abandon her advocacy work.
"I loved being a good lawyer and I still do. But in Iran, Iranian law was only one of the rules of the Qur'an."
She switched gears, working as a hairdresser and began studying economics at university.
Her life changed forever in 2012, when she converted from Islam to Christianity after learning about the faith through a friend. She started attending home churches in secret. This was very risky, as Shia Islam is the compulsory religion of Iran. No other religion is tolerated.
“The verdict for an apostate is just death, and this is in the Quran and in the law of the country.”
Samira met her future husband, Babak, in a home church. He had a car dealership and was partner in a real estate business. He was doing very well financially, and was a kind and gentle person.
The couple was wedded in secret by the church pastor. They had no legal marriage documents and their families abandoned them when they discovered they had converted. But Samira and Babak still lived together and were both happy in their faith.
One day in 2013, a friend rang and told them to leave the country as quickly as possible - the Iranian government had discovered their home church and arrested most of the congregation.
A smuggler helped them flee Iran and organised tickets to Indonesia. It was the only way they could escape a death sentence.
When they arrived in Indonesia, they discovered what a narrow escape they’d had – Iranian government officials had been looking for Samira and Babak everywhere. The Iranian police had gone to their house as well as to Babak’s shop to arrest them.
Samira and Babak have been in Indonesia since 2013 under the supervision of UNHCR. In 2014, they gave birth to a son, Barbis the light of their lives.
In 2016 they were officially recognized by the UNHCR as refugees.
From 2014 to 2019 the family stayed in refugee accommodation in Makassar, Indonesia. In April 2019, they moved to Jakarta to find treatment for Barbis, who has extreme allergies. Doctors have advised the family to leave the country to improve his health.
Without support from the IOM, the family must share a small room, surviving on the charity of their local church. Life is emotionally and physical draining.
“Here in Indonesia, we are not allowed to work and continue our education; we are just allowed to be alive and breathe.”
A New Hope
It is Samira and Babak’s dream to live, study and work again, free from persecution, and to nurse their son back to full health. Samira wants to study law again, and her husband Babak, who still keeps in touch - secretly - with his family members in Iran, is eager to restart his career. As long as they are in Indonesia, however, their hopes will come to nothing.
We can give them back the future they lost.
Samira has a friend in Toronto, Narges, who is happy to lead their sponsorship team. And Narges has agreed to cover the cost of privately sponsoring the family - usually the biggest obstacle - with help from relatives and friends of the family.
All that's needed: three more sponsors in Toronto, Canada. Anyone in Toronto who is interested in helping to join the sponsorship team can contact Narges through phone or WhatsApp: +1 (416) 560-8664. Other friends include Michelle Bonner in Sydney, Australia and Stephen Watt in Toronto
Reach out and discover how wonderful it is to privately sponsor a good person to start a new life – with your help – in Canada!