“My problems in my country started all on one day, when I was kidnapped by an organized crime group and kept hostage. I still carry the signs of their beatings on my back. I managed to escape and call the police, many kidnappers died, others were arrested and some others ran away. But those who made it sought revenge and one night they shot dead my father, my younger sister, and my brothers.
I fled Afghanistan to go to Norway, but it did not work out. Italy became my only hope.
At first, I felt completely alone; those were the worst moments of my life. I expected Rome to be a holy city. I thought, ‘There is the Vatican, many churches, many Christian believers, and they have humanity,’ but I have not seen much altruism around here so far.
Then I found true friends at the Joel Nafuma Refugee Center in Rome. When I come here I can really feel the humanity and kindness that I was seeking for so long. I studied psychology, but I am also a writer. The first book I ever wrote was about a girl living under the Taliban regime, who would disguise herself as a man to go to university. The story behind that book is based on the life of my neighbor. When the regime came to an end, my book became very popular. Thanks to my friends in Rome, I am now working as an artisan, and I make jewelry, baskets and other crafts with gems and recycled paper.
I still don’t know how to fit in here as a refugee. I am doing my best because I don’t want to be dependent all the time. We refugees and migrants need more support to stand on our own legs, and then of course we can stand up, walk and go on and fix our lives.”
Rakeen's story was also featured in the New York Times.