By the age of 27, Tina had already been threatened with death, rape and acid attacks. Her crime? Her brother had become involved with a woman from a family that violently objected to the match. She fled with her mother to Indonesia, where she now lives alone.
Yet through it all, Tina has done her best to stay hopeful. She is looking for the chance to get a new start. We can help.
This is her story, in her words.
Background: Iranian, born in city of Ahvaz in the south of Iran
Status: Asylum seeker in Indonesia
Risk of return: Death threats at home
Need: Private sponsorship to Canada
Advantages: UNHCR-certified, educated (Bachelor of Law), English skills, experience in fashion
I was born in 1985 in Ahvaz in the province of Khouzestan, in the south of Iran. I lived with my parents and two brothers, and after high school, I completed a bachelor of law.
Trouble started when my brother Ali became involved with a woman from another ethnic group. By the middle of March 2013, Ali was ready to take the next step in his relationship.
Ali and my mother visited Mona’s family to ask for permission to marry. The problem: the family was from another tribe (of Arabic, rather than Persian background). The answer was a flat no. An argument broke out, and almost a fight.
Yet the couple continued to see each other. On May 25, 2013, relatives of Mona spotted her and Ali leaving his family home. The following Saturday, Mona’s relatives went to the supermarket where Ali worked and staged an attack. Mona had also been attacked.
The next day, Ali was on his way to work when he was shot by someone who ran away. My father went to the police station to report the attack. A few men were arrested, but the threats continued.
“Suddenly life became like a nightmare, our family fell apart and we had to fear an attack at any moment.”
After that my brother Ali fled Iran for Indonesia to save his life. With him out of the country, the threats increased against me and my mom, threats of death, rape and acid attacks. I lived in a state of terror and dread.
My mother and I decided to follow our brother, and flee to Indonesia. There we faced new challenges. We had no place in the country – forbidden from working, going to school or having the rights and freedoms of a citizen.
“As refugees, we had no security or future in the country.”
My mother became sick in Indonesia and returned to Iran to seek treatment – leaving me alone.
My life now
A ray of hope came when I was introduced to the church by other refugees. After attending services, I decided to convert to Christianity, and for a time I found peace in the faith.
“In 2015, I received official refugee status from the UNHCR. Yet little changed. I have given up hope of resettlement in a third country.”
The stress has taken a toll on my health, and a psychologist prescribes me up to four sleeping pills daily to get through the night and depression pills to get through the day. I have considered suicide.
“I used to be a very happy energetic girl before all this happened, and I really hope I can be same person again.”
My life continues, and I believe there is still time for me. I had a bachelor of law, and continue to take English courses to keep my mind sharp. My dream is to go to Canada to study and continue my education.
Yet with no hope of resettlement from the UNHCR, my only hope is private sponsorship in a country like Canada.
“I have not found the help I need to discover my forever home yet, but I know that there are people out there that can help. I am looking forward to living a new life where I progress with acceptance, human values and an open mind.”
The last word
If you would like to know more about my story and even help sponsor me to Canada, please contact me directly by Facebook. In Toronto you can contact my friend Amir Sahragard (who was himself privately sponsored) or Stephen Watt, who is active in private sponsorship.
Reach out and discover how wonderful it is to privately sponsor a good person to start a new life – with your help – in Canada!
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