Good morning, principal, fellow teachers and students. This is Miss YY Choi. In these two years, there has been a lot of political and military strife in the world. In February 2022, a war broke out between Russia and Ukraine; about two weeks ago, a war broke out between Hamas and Israel. During wartime, some people stay and fight for their country, and some leave their countries for peace and safety. These people are called refugees. Recently, I have come across a book from the library. The title is Living As A Refugee From Afghanistan to a new life in America written by Louise Armstrong.
Louise Armstrong wrote about an Afghan boy called Mohamed Nazari. Mohamed was about the same age as you. He was fifteen when the book was written. He was born in Afghanistan, and he went to settle in the United States of America at thirteen. Before he moved to the States, he had lived in exile in different countries. First, he went to Pakistan, then, he went to Iran and then Turkey.
Why did his family want to leave and lead an unstable life for years? It was because the danger he faced in his home country, Afghanistan. His home country was one of the poorest countries in the world. Many people had no food to eat. Mohamed’s father was an assistant to a truck driver and one day he went to work, but he didn’t come back home. Mohamed’s mother found living in Afghanistan was getting more and more difficult. At that time, families were robbed and killed. Mohamed’s mother decided to take Mohamed, his sister and brother to leave the country. Mohamed was about six or seven years old at that time. His grandparents refused to leave the country. They said they were too old to go anywhere. Mohamed later saw his grandparents’ heads cut off by terrorists.
There was a lot of danger on their escape path. First Mohamed and his family went to Pakistan. Then, after a month, they were in a car to Iran, but Iranian soldiers stopped them and shot their tyres out. They got out of their car and hid underground. After several hours, they got out and ran and ran. Mohamed’s mother was sick and tired. Mohamed carried his mother on his back for part of the way. After five days and five nights, they reached Iran. Luckily, an old Iranian woman offered them shelter and a cleaning job for Mohamed’s mother. Unfortunately, the old lady later died. Mohamed and his family went to Turkey where they looked for the United Nations to help them.
When Mohamed was thirteen years old, he was given a visa to move to the United States. He had been a refugee for six to seven years. Being a refugee is not easy and it is especially disruptive for a child’s education. He was about Primary one when he left Afghanistan and when he was Form One, he settled in the US. He did not receive any primary school education. Boys and girls, don’t expect Mohamed could receive a proper education during these six years of being a refugee. He didn’t go to school in Afghanistan. In Iran, he only went to first grade for one and a half years. Later, Mohamed could not go to school because he had no passport, and he did not have money to study. Only some Afghans started teaching them how to read at home. Mohamed did not learn with any ipads, he did not have any PE lessons, he did not have the chance of going to school picnic days like you last Friday, he did not have any chances to take part in Talent Shows.
Boys and girls, you may ask, why should we care as refugees are so far away, they do not seem to be near us. In fact, there are refugees in Hong Kong. Perhaps you haven’t had a chance to meet them. But there is something that you can do after you have read the book. There are two concerns I would like you to pay attention to.
First you should keep yourself informed of the issues. Watch the television news, read newspapers or international websites to know the difficulties refugees face. You could