Name: Jalil Jafari
Profile: Hazara refugee living in Makassar, Indonesia
Place of origin: Jaghori, Ghazni, Afghanistan
Risks: At risk of being caught and killed by Taliban if being returned to Afghanistan.
Needed: Five people to serve as private sponsors in Canada
We are putting together a group to help this lovely young man come to Canada. Jalil Jafari is a Hazara refugee who lives in semi-captivity in Indonesia. He is a survivor of the ongoing genocide of the Hazara people.
When he was just a teenager, Jalil and his father were captured by the Taliban. Jalil made it out alive. His father, who once gave away the family's wealth to support the poor, did not. He sacrificed his own life for his son's.
We've launched a fundraiser to bring him to Canada. This is Jalil's story, in his words:
A Bright Start
I am Jalil Jafari a UNHCR recognized refugee. I would like to start my story with a poem from a well-known poet, Saadi:
“Human beings are members of a whole,
since in their creation, they are of one essence.
When the conditions of the time bring a member (limb) to pain,
the other limbs will suffer from discomfort.”
When I was still very young, I felt good and confident if I was able to bring comfort to others in their troubles. Serving and helping others give me inner peace and a special joy, a feeling I enjoyed from childhood.
“I tried to move heaven and earth to bring a smile on the face of others around me.”
My father had a small business of importing TV and satellite dishes from Ghazni and selling them in a local bazaar in Jaghori, Afghanistan. We were experiencing financial problems, so I left school at an early age to help my father and his business. I had no other option than to help my family survive.
“At the end of each day, I felt satisfied with the little help I could provide to my mom and my younger sister.”
When my father started working with a de-mining company in Ghazni, I took more responsibility for the business. I started to take the whole responsibility of our business when my father was employed in a private organization, based in Ghazni, that removed landmines. By the age of 16, I was running the business and it was making profits.
My father and I decided to distribute part of our income to poor people in our village. We wanted to help needy people get their basic needs for the cold winter each year.
“Life was great and I felt helpful and hopeful.”
By “us” I mean the Hazara ethnic minority. Life was not easy for us in Afghanistan. When our people travel from the suburbs to the cities in Afghanistan, Jaghori to Ghazni in particular, they cannot be sure they will make it. They might be robbed, kidnapped or even killed along the route.
The last time I saw my father was May 22, 2014, I was in Ghazni and my father came home for a leave. We bought some things that my father needed for his job in the demining company and loaded them on a truck to be delivered to Jaghori. As it was late afternoon, we waited too long to find a taxi to take us home. The driver of the truck said he could deliver us safely to Jaghori.
When we were passing along the Qarabagh district, some gunmen appeared by the side of the road and gestured to stop the truck. The driver was scared and didn’t stop the vehicle.
“The gunmen started shooting and the driver died.”
The gunmen then captured me and my father, and took us to an old ruined house, where we were locked in a dark room. By late in the night, my father freed me. He said that only one of us could escape. He said the Taliban would torture me to death because I was importing and selling TVs and dish antennas.
“I made it to Kabul and two days passed when my mother called me. She told me my father had been killed.”
With my father gone, I was the next target. It was time for me to leave – leave behind my family, friends and relatives.
“No other alternative remained for me. I had to run for my life.”
On May 27, 2014, I began the journey to a new life. It was a daring and dangerous trip. I spent $7,000 to cross several countries and arrive in Indonesia. I stayed five days in India and on June 1, 2014 I arrived in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
One day later, on June 2, I found myself in Indonesia. The country and even its name were unfamiliar to me.
Life in Indonesia
For the first 18 days, I stayed in Bogor, a beautiful mountainous city in Java, Indonesia. I was confronted with many challenges. Like all other refugees, the language barrier was a huge challenge. I was not able to speak a word in either English or the local Indonesian language.
To communicate with locals while shopping or asking directions, I used sign language. The Indonesians found this ridiculous, yet managed to still be hospitable and supportive. These challenges motivated me to start learning the Indonesian language from the locals, a little each day.
After I have realized that Indonesia is not a party to the 1951 United Nations Convention, I had to find another path for starting a normal life. A friend of mine told me that the process of resettlement would take longer if you do not move to the detention house. I decided to surrender myself to Manado immigration office. They put me in the detention centre on June 23, 2014. I stayed there for four years.
For the first month, I felt like a real prisoner for the first month. We were locked up, facing closed doors guarded by a security official.
“Words cannot express how hard and tough those days were.”
When I remembered my family back in Afghanistan, I tried to keep strong and accept the challenges. Day by day I grew stronger and I decided to transform the challenges into an opportunity.
Inside detention, some of the refugees who had experience teaching English started some basic English classes. I also joined the classes and started to learn English from the alphabet onward. Though it was immensely hard to push myself to learn a foreign language, I did my best to learn.
Soon the head of IDC announced that each afternoon refugees could go for jogging and exercise in the front-yard of the detention centre. We took advantage of the offer to play sports.
“I put my shoulder to the wheel to learn new things from the people around me.”
Keeping Hope Alive
On January 9, 2018, after four years of detention, I was transferred with a group of 20 other refugees from a detention centre in Manado to one in Makassar. Now I live in a community accommodation (Pondok Nugraha, Makassar, South Sulawesi, Indonesia) and hope for a new life.
Like all other refugees, I do have my challenges. I have noticed so many in detention suffer mental because they keep their problems and concerns from others. It is hard for them to make friends or find people to listen. Their concerns back there in Afghanistan make them withdraw from society.
One thing that is different about me is that I never lose hope or stop sharing my hopes and feelings with my friends. When I feel stressed, I go jogging and I run faster than before.
“When I get tired, I forget about my problems and keep my eyes trained on my hopes for the future.”
My Appeal to You
As fate has it, I have not been given the chance to serve humankind in my own country, and was uprooted just as I began to help others. There’s so much left for me to give.
Six years living in limbo couldn't defeat me to stop dreaming for a better future in a welcoming country – a place full of hope, kindness and opportunity – like Canada.
Thanks for taking the time to read my story.
The Last Word
Jalil dreams of a better and safe future in a third country, where he can pursue a higher education, stand on his own two feet, support his family from afar, and continue to help others.
It’s possible. Since he is officially certified as a refugee by the UNHCR – unlike the vast majority of\ the world’s refugees – he qualifies for Canada’s private sponsorship program.
You can also reach out to Jalil directly on Facebook.
And here's the fundraiser to bring him here.
Reach out and discover how wonderful it is to privately sponsor a good person to start a new life – with your help – in Canada!