This is a story I didn’t have the strength to share for many months. But today is the day because I want you to know about her.
Exactly a year ago, in August 2019, I was walking in Moria camp when an Afghan man shouted at me “Merhaba” (“Hi” in turkish). After a very brief discussion in turkish he told me in very good english “My wife was working in MSF too, do you want to come meet her?”.
I accepted his invitation and went in their (half) tent. There I saw a beautiful, young woman, surrounded by her three young sons. They had just arrived from Turkey where they tried to survive for 2 years.
Nazanin was 28 years old, like me, and she had fled her country after Taliban threatened her that they will harm her family. That was because she was working as a midwife in Afghanistan for an international humanitarian organisation. Sadly, a known reason of prosecution in Afghanistan.
When I sat with them, she prepared some tea and took out a pack of documents. They were all her degrees and certifications. She proudly presented all of them me as she wanted to work as a midwife in Greece.
Despite her good experience, the good command in English and her certifications it was impossible to get employed as the Greek government was not providing national insurance to asylum seekers.
However, I arranged for her a meeting with the HR of MSF.
Since then we started messaging each other often. Every time I would go to Lesbos I would pay a visit to her tent.
I was impressed how well she was managing the terrible situation she was in. She was always positive, seeing the good side of things. She felt very unsafe for her young children in Moria but as she told me once “We do this for the future of our children. We want them to study and live a free life.”
Only sometimes she would burst into tears and what she’d say was “My dear Anna, I’m sorry, I don’t want to make you sad too”.
The last time I saw her was some time in September 2019.
I was so proud of knowing her that I wanted my colleagues to meet her too. I wanted her story to be known. We were anyway part of the MSF family.
So we passed by her tent to say “Hi” and she invited all of us for breakfast in her tent. She made some tea and took out all the food they received in the food distribution to share it with us.
This is typical Afghan hospitality.
The same day she messaged me saying “Anna, I am so happy. My problems are solved! We are moving to Kara Tepe, safe place.”
I was happy for them. Kara Tepe is nothing like Moria. It’s a small camp for vulnerable families. There they would have their own container and they would finally feel safe.
On 5th of December a fire broke out during the night in her container in Kara Tepe and Nazanin lost her life leaving behind three young boys.
Today is the World Humanitarian Day.
Is an international day dedicated to recognize humanitarian workers and those who have lost their lives working for humanitarian causes.
Nazanin was a humanitarian worker who was prosecuted for the help she was offering to other women in Afghanistan. She was looking for asylum somewhere where she and her children could be safe and free.
And everything brutally stopped on the 5th of December 2019.
She was added to the list of people who lost their lives in Lesbos. She became the headline in the news for a day as the “28 year-old mother of three who lost her life in a fire”.
But I was lucky enough to get to know her.
I will never forget her smile, the feeling of hugging her and holding her hand.