Dr. Nasimi fled to the UK speaking no English. Now he runs a large refugee organisation and has just opened Afghanistan’s first Citizen’s Advice Bureau.
Living under the Taliban was a devastating time for the Afghan people. Like many others, my family fled the country in search of safety. My wife and I faced a long journey with our three young children; my son was just three months old.
When we arrived in the UK, the Refugee Council supported us. With their help and that of other community groups we found somewhere to live, my children started school and we were granted asylum.
The process was not easy. Often we felt lost. It was overwhelming to start out life in a new place, where we didn’t know anyone or speak the language.
I worked so hard to learn English and did a lot of volunteering in the local community and with the Citizen’s Advice Bureau so that I could practice. Fourteen months after arriving in the UK, I founded the Afghanistan and Central Asian Association, which works to support refugees.
We work with unaccompanied children, helping them access social services and running a mentoring scheme so that they have support with school work, language learning and confidence building. We offer advice and training for women. One of our proudest achievements is supporting and training hundreds of volunteers, often in partnership with universities such as LSE, SOAS and Goldsmiths.
We have also opened the first ever Citizens Advice Bureau in Afghanistan, offering advice for internally displaced people in Afghanistan. We provide a lot of support for women around health and domestic violence.
Without the support of the host community and British people we would not be able to offer this kind of help to refugees.
I cannot compare life in Afghanistan to the UK. Life in the UK is like nowhere else. We feel very lucky to be here and we will always appreciate the support of the British people. It has changed my children’s lives forever.
Now, my daughter is finishing her training to become a solicitor, she is a caseworker for our local MP. My younger daughter got a scholarship to do her masters at the London School of Economics and hopes to pursue a PHD.
I feel so proud of my achievements as a refugee who came to the UK speaking no English. After living here for 16 years, I would like to say thank you to Great Britain for being such a tolerant society, I believe it is something we should all recognise and be grateful for.