Refugee Teens Write Book, ‘My Unfinished Story’
SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – They met under the direst circumstances and have found a home here in Utah.
They’re refugees from Afghanistan who almost didn’t survive the violence of their war-torn country. Now they’ve written a book they hope will help others.
“I’m from Afghanistan,” said Jawad Amini, who is 18.
“I’m from Afghanistan, too,” said Jawid Ehsani, who is 17.
They are unlikely friends who are now like brothers.
“Yes, we’re a family,” said Ehsani.
Both now live in Pleasant Grove.
Four years ago, Amini was captured by the Taliban. They found a book in his car written in English, which was forbidden. Amini escaped and fled to a refugee camp in Indonesia, where he met Ehsani, an orphan.
“My mom died when I was like 4 or 5,” Ehsani said, and his dad died when he was a baby. “He got cut by the Taliban.”
The two forged a strong bond in an Indonesian refugee camp. Through Catholic Community Services’ Refugee Foster Care program, Ehsani came to live with the Macdonalds in Pleasant Grove.
“Families are formed in different ways,” said Brett Macdonald, their foster father.
Ehsani encouraged them to bring Amini.
“Jawid has been with us for two and half years, and Jawad has been with us for a year and a half,” Macdonald said.
Ehsani said, “Yah, I was happy.” Amini said, “We are happy together.”
“I think it’s very important to feel like you are not completely disconnected and alone,” Macdonald said.
He encouraged the young men to write about their past.
“We wanted them to hold on to things that were important to them as they started new lives here,” he said. “We wanted them to remember their heritage and remember their families. Out of those conversations came sketches and came stories, and so we started to put those together.”
They created a book called, “My Unfinished Story.” It encourages others to write down their stories as well.
“What hard experiences have I had? What important things have I learned?” Macdonald said.
The hope is that other refugee youth will use the book to connect to their past so they can build a strong future.
said, “It will help others who are going through a similar experience,” said Aden Batar, Director of Migration and Refugee Services, with Catholic Community Services. “Hopefully, they can all come together one day and say, ‘Look what I have done. Look what I have accomplished.’”
The book is divided into sections: the past, present and future, with space to write down and sketch memories.
“It gives you hope,” said Ehsani.
Much of his past is still a mystery. Though he can’t look back much, he can look forward.
“He is going to be somebody’s background,” Macdonald said. “He’s going to be somebody’s father, somebody’s grandfather, somebody’s great grandfather.”
It was a book that put Amini’s life in jeopardy before, and now a book is helping him find a new life.
They’re both starting to visualize their futures.
“Get a job, get married,” said Amini.
“I want to be a doctor,” Ehsani said. “I want to have a family, kids.”
The young men and their foster family are working on developing a website where the book will be available. If you’re interested in getting a copy of the book now, contact Catholic Community Services.
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