Full name: Noor Nawaz Shaiwani 
Age: 32 
  
Why did your family flee to Pakistan?  
 
During early the 1990s, the situation in country turned into a chaos. There was conflict in every corner of the country. In this situation, we lost our father. It couldn’t get any worse than that and my mother was left alone with the kids in Kabul. It was then that my mom decided to flee the country and seek refuge in Pakistan, which was the nearest country for us to get to. From what I remember and from what my mom would sometimes talk about the situation was so miserable in the country and we spent at least 1 or 2 weeks crossing the border to arrive to Peshawar.  
 
How did it feel being a refugee in Pakistan? How old were you? What was life like?  
 
I was about three years old when we arrived in Peshawar, Pakistan. As far as I remember, the living conditions were hard for us there. It was a new environment for us. Everything was new there. The overall social shift, losing our income /resources and generally handling the situation was hard. Overall, we were struggling. We spent around nine or ten years there.  
 
There was this visible difference between our life as refugees and the lives of local Pakistani people. Being a teenager, you don’t have that in-depth of an understanding of living conditions, rights, and etc. but I still remember now the way we struggled to get food, spending nights only with a cup of tea without sugar and sometimes not having money for even buying clothes. Those memories are not fond and keeps me wondering how difficult it was for my mother, family, and other Afghans and continues to be.  
 
What was the toughest part about returning the Afghanistan?  
 
There were so many things that made it difficult for us to return. The first and foremost in my mind is the social shift/change for the second time. Although, we were struggling in Pakistan, at least the environment there was secure. We were studying in Afghan Refugee schools.  
 
Acclimating back to the new environment was difficult due to the social differences we had with the community in Afghanistan and also our different perspective. I think reintegrating back into our own community after nine or ten years was a challenge we struggled with. The country was in post conflict situation and the mindsets were yet evolving. It took I think years for us to fully integrate to our own community.  
 
We felt alienated from our own community, which was a strange feeling and difficult to cope with sometimes. 
 
Is there a single moment that you can remember that inspired/encouraged you to help others?  
 
There are many actually. There are so many memories of that time that encourages me to be a humanitarian and work in this sector.  
 
The first thing is that educational system we were following there. We were studying basic mathematics. In math class, our word problems would be based off adding and subtracting ammunition, rifles, grands, knifes and etc. For instance, we were taught that if you have 5 rounds and you shot 4, how many are remaining. This is an example of a mathematical question. 
 
That was the reason I started in the education sector in NRC. To at least speak up about it and share my experience about how curriculum and teaching methods impact the mind of a child studying in primary school.  
 
Secondly, the schools that we would attend did not have sufficient key services. For instance, the WASH or hygiene services or facilities, drinking water points, recreational activity space and etc. were lacking.  
 
Thirdly, the school that we were attending was a refugee school run by aid. The school gave us a feeling of separation. I vividly remember the difference between myself and the Pakistani kids who would attend Pakistani schools. They were well organized, having uniforms, shiny shoes, good notebooks and etc. I mean these were the things that a kid would love to have for school, but we were deprived of that. We would use the same books that were used by the previous semester students from the year before us. We were handling them with very much care and we had to submit them back to the school after we would take the final exams for that grade. The reason was the schools did not have enough new books to distribute to all the kids in every school year.  
 
Last but not least, there was very little done for integration. There were these visible differences among the refugees and local people in terms of living conditions, education and etc. I can’t remember any competitive program or academic exchange visit to any of the Pakistani schools or universities that would encourage integration or understanding each other. There were no specific things done for the refugee children to be able to develop goals or objectives to see ourselves or place within Pakistan or our community in Afghanistan. developing a goal as child for you to see yourself somewhere as an adult in your community. There was no such thing at that time. 
 
What do you like about being a humanitarian?  
 
I believe that every moment of working as a humanitarian is honor. I strongly believe and have experienced and seen that how these steps that we take accumulate and build up resilience, hope and respect for the internally displaced, refugees, or returnees in our country and community. I can see how integration play key role and is live saving.  
 
I can feel the emotions the way one could feel being heard when they are far from their home displaced due to conflict and settled in a new environment. As I myself saw how it hard to be not part of a community and being neglected.  
 
When establishing moments as such is I think the notion I love the most being a humanitarian.  
 
How does it feel to be featured in the exhibition?  
 
In my opinion, it is an honour. This allows us being heard and reflect the reality of how bad the war is. How it feels to be a refugee and what to be done to stop it. It is our collective duty to ensure that whatever we do is that we keep saving lives, listening to individuals or communities neglected, displaced from their homes and living in a chaotic situation are heard and ensure we are all doing our duties responsibly to protect their dignity, rights and lives. 
I also believe that as a refugee once, being heard even after years is encouraging feeling. There could be thousands or hundreds of thousands people having the same problems or even worse are not heard. This allows me to raise up the voice and educate other humans about the feelings you would have when you are a refugee or had to flee your home because of conflict.   

Photo: Javid Ahmad Hiwadwal / NRC
Afghanistan

Min historie om fattigdom, fremmedgjøring og håp

Som flyktningbarn i Pakistan følte Noor Nawaz Shaiwani (32) aldri at han passet inn. Da han kom tilbake til Afghanistan, følte han seg fremmedgjort. Han er fast bestemt på at mennesker på flukt skal få en følelse av tilhørighet, uansett hvor de befinner seg.

– Tidlig på 1990-tallet ble situasjonen i Afghanistan kaotisk. Det var konflikt i hvert hjørne av landet, sier Noor.

Den afghansk-sovjetisk krigen, som endelig tok slutt i 1989, hadde kostet hundretusener av liv og forårsaket omfattende ødeleggelser. Da Sovjet trakk seg tilbake, var det uklart hva som ville skje videre i det krigsherjede landet. En fullblods borgerkrig fulgte.

Midt i kaoset døde Noors far. Moren ble etterlatt, alene med Noor og søsknene hans. Hun hadde ikke noe annet valg enn å ta med seg barna og søke tilflukt i nabolandet Pakistan. Da var Noor bare tre år gammel.

– Ut fra det jeg husker, og ut fra det mamma noen ganger snakket om, var situasjonen elendig. Vi brukte minst en eller to uker på å krysse grensen for å komme til Peshawar.

Les billedteksten Torkham-grensen mellom Afghanistan og Pakistan brukes fortsatt aktivt i dag av de som flykter og vender tilbake. Dette bildet ble tatt i mars 2017, da tusenvis av afghanere forsøkte å komme hjem etter at grensen hadde vært stengt i to måneder. Foto: Muhammad Sajjad/ AP Photo/ NTB

Følelsen av å være annerledes

Familien fant sikkerhet i Peshawar, Pakistan, men kampen for å overleve fortsatte.

– Levekårene var vanskelige for oss. Alt var nytt, og vi hadde mistet inntektene og ressursene våre - generelt var det en vanskelig situasjon, sier Noor.

– Det var en synlig forskjell mellom livene våre som flyktninger og livene til de lokale. Som tenåring forstår du ikke helt dette med levekår, rettigheter og så videre, men jeg husker fortsatt hvordan vi slet med å skaffe mat.

– Mange kvelder hadde vi bare en kopp te, uten sukker. Jeg er ikke glad i disse minnene. Nå, som voksen, lurer jeg stadig på hvor vanskelig det må ha vært for min mor, familien min og andre afghanere, og hvor vanskelig det fortsetter å være, sier han.

Noor husker at han ble behandlet som "annerledes", som om han egentlig ikke hørte hjemme. Skolen han gikk på var en skole for flyktningbarn, drevet av en humanitær organisasjon.

– Skolen ga oss en følelse av utenforskap. Jeg husker godt forskjellen mellom meg selv og de pakistanske barna som skulle gå på pakistanske skoler. De var godt organisert og hadde uniformer, skinnende sko og gode notatbøker. Ting et barn gjerne ville ha på skolen! Men vi hadde ingenting av det, sier Noor.

Les billedteksten Noor (nummer to fra høyre) og andre mannlige familiemedlemmer. Foto: Privat.

Fremmedgjort i eget land

Noors familie vendte til slutt tilbake til Afghanistan, omtrent ti år etter at de først flyktet. Landet føltes forandret. De følte seg forandret.

– Det var vanskelig å venne seg til det nye miljøet på grunn av de sosiale forskjellene mellom oss og samfunnet ellers i Afghanistan. Våre perspektiver var forskjellige. Landet var i en ny situasjon etter konflikten, og folks tankesett bar preg av det, forteller Noor.

Han sier det tok mange år for familien å integrere seg fullt ut i sitt eget samfunn.

– Vi følte oss fremmedgjort fra vårt eget samfunn, noe som til tider var en merkelig følelse og vanskelig å håndtere, sier han.

Les billedteksten Elever ved en skole drevet av Flyktninghjelpen i Herat, vest i Afghanistan. Foto: Enayatullah Azad/Flyktninghjelpen

Fast bestemt på å hjelpe andre

Noor jobber nå som områdesjef for Flyktninghjelpen i Afghanistan, inspirert av sin egen erfaring med å være flyktning.

– Jeg har så mange minner fra den tiden som motiverer meg til å jobbe med humanitært arbeid, sier han.

Noors første jobb i Flyktninghjelpen var i utdanningsavdelingen.

– Jeg ønsket å si fra, og fortelle om mine personlige erfaringer med hvordan pensum og undervisningsmetoder påvirker barn på barneskolen. Og også om hvordan skolene vi gikk på ikke hadde tilstrekkelige tilbud. For eksempel manglet det hygiene- og sanitæranlegg, drikkevannspunkter og aktivitetsområder, sier Noor.

– Men mer enn noe annet var det svært få som satset på integrering. Det var så synlige forskjeller mellom flyktninger og lokalbefolkning, når det gjaldt levekår og utdanning.

– Jeg kan ikke huske at det var noen konkurranser eller akademisk utvekslingsbesøk til noen av de pakistanske skolene eller universitetene som oppmuntret til integrering eller forståelse av hverandre. Det var ingenting som hjalp oss flyktningbarn med å finne vår plass i Pakistan, eller i vårt eget samfunn i Afghanistan, sier Noor.

Noor husker den uvanlige måten klassen hans ble undervist i matematikk i Pakistan. Han lærte å legge til og trekke fra ved hjelp av ammunisjon, rifler, granater og kniver som eksempler. – Vi hadde for eksempel spørsmål som: "Hvis du har fem kuler og skyter fire, hvor mange gjenstår?"

– Et barn skal kunne se seg selv som voksen i lokalsamfunnet, og skal kunne sette seg mål. Det fantes ikke noe slikt på den tiden, sier han.

Ahsanullah, 15, an eighth-grade student, recalls the incident and explains the aftermath of the attack on his fellow classmates. Ahsan’s classroom is among those that has been damaged by the explosion so his class was shifted to another room with only minor cracks on the walls. Other students have been shifted to temporary classrooms in tents provided by NRC. 

Ahsan and his friends take me to their original class and show me where he was sitting. He also took me to those classes that have been flattened. 

“Since the security situation has deteriorated in the area, the government has banned all the motorbikes and those students living in far-away villages can’t get to the school. 

Ahsan lives in far distance from school and it takes him and his friends an hour and half to reach to school. They usually collect money to pay for the petrol and use one bike to get to school. Now, as there is ban on the motorbike riders in the district, some of his friends can’t make it to school. 
Photo: Enayatullah Azad / NRC
Les billedteksten En gruppe tenåringsgutter på skolen deres i Kandahar, der Noor er områdesjef. Skolen ble nylig skadet da en bilbombe, rettet mot en politistasjon i nærheten, eksploderte. Foto: Enayatullah Azad/Flyktninghjelpen

Blir hørt, til slutt

Noors historie er for tiden en del av en utstilling i Storbritannias Imperial War Museum North: Aid workers: Ethics under fire. Han er også med i en kort BBC Ideas-film, Why do aid workers risk their lives to help others?, som har blitt laget om utstillingen.

Noor sier at det er en ære å bli anerkjent på denne måten.

– Det gjør at vi kan bli hørt og formidle krigens grusomme realitet. Hvordan det føles å være flyktning og hva som kan gjøres for å stoppe det, sier han.

– Det er vår kollektive plikt å fortsette å redde liv, og å lytte til enkeltpersoner og samfunn som føler seg forsømt, eller som har blitt fordrevet fra sine hjem og lever i kaotiske situasjoner. Vi må sørge for at stemmene deres blir hørt, sier Noor.