This story is part of a brochure in the making by Noor Badshah Yousafzai who himself came to Germany as a refugee. He is a journalist and contributed articles to media outlets such as e.g. the BBC Pashtu and is also an editor for The Pashtun Express. As soon as the brochure is printed, we'll publish it here on our blog. Until then, we want to share the stories with you individually, one by one. The brochure is funded by "Partnerschaften für Demokratie Treptow-Köpenick" through the programme Demokratie Leben!

Noor Twitter Handle @NBYousafzai

Photo: private


In this democratic 21st century, women in developing countries by large still face harassment, discrimination and even torture from men who are often family members. Europe has come to recognise the equality to women. Often this has been achieved through a long struggle by the women. Helen who is now 24, is among those unfortunate but resilient women who didn’t stop fighting for a  free life. Helen was born in conservative Eritrea in the north-east of Africa . The brave woman left her homeland for Europe to live free and independent life of her own choice. 

Helen has passed the 9th grade and speaks Tigrinya, English and can communicate in German, too. She lived a happy life with her family in her village. Helen has two sisters and a brother. “ In the village, I used to celebrate traditional and religious festivals with my sisters and friends ” Helen says as she recalls her time in Eritrea. And suddenly her eyes fill up with tears as she discusses  her memories. One day she decided to do something out of the box and that’s why Helen now lives as a refugee, thousands of kilometres away from her family, friends and the land she grew up in.  Here she is now, a satisfied Helen, in front of me, on a chair, playing with her four month old baby in a refugee camp. 

“No doubt it was the toughest journey. I  walked for four days when I started my journey from Africa to Europe, she said. After a few days she reached Ethiopia, having come through desert and mountains, and from there she went on to Sudan. “In Sudan I had to travel like a thief, hiding in a in car to avoid the police. The driver would drive fast during the day, but would never travel at night.” she discloses the rules of human trafficking. 

After a long pause, she starts talking again “Then our small caravan entered Libya. In Libya the number of people wanting to get to Europe increased and the inhabitants of many countries joined the group, she says. " In Libya we travelled for seven days in various vehicles. Drivers and other men raped women in front of my eyes, I can’t describe that terrible time” Helen sighs in despair. 

In Libya Helen spent four months in a house established by a human trafficker, who got them food twice a day. Without payment there was no way of getting out of that place, she says. She saw many women there who had been living in this place for months because they couldn't  pay. These women faced sexual and physical harassment regularly.  Helen's normally smiling face clouds over. Human traffickers don’t have hearts, this is a money game, only money!

The destination was still far away on the other shore of the sea. The next voyage was the risky one, and she could easily drown as so often happens.  After a four month stay in Libya, Helen started her journey towards Italy in a boat with 200 other people. “It was a scary journey on the water and all of us saw the race between life and death", Helen says looking terrified. "When our boat was about to sink,  a rescue boat saved us. I must say,  I breathed a sigh of relief, grinned the African refugee. With the help of the rescue boat we reached Italy and then went on to Germany."

Helen , who has such a brave heart and is undeniably ingenious,  now enjoys her freedom and can choose what she wants. She is extremely happy and appreciates the German government's attitude towards refugees. Her hope is that such liberty and love for humanity may come to her native country as well.
After spending some time here, she fell in love with a man in the camp and got her first child. The baby is tired and sleeps as Helen runs her fingers through his curly hair. “The Germans gave me the right to stay and I love the environment and fantastic facilities.” Helen is grateful to all those who have helped her.

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