© Mehran Montazer
s the first Russian bombs dropped on Kabul, the then 7-year-old boy thought it was fireworks.” – this is the first line of an article published in the German newspaper “Die ZEIT”, dated 23 of December 2015, about a young man whose story is without a doubt worth telling: Ruhin Ashuftah.
While escaping Afghanistan in 1988, the young boy sees the brutal consequences of the conflict first hand and after completing the odyssey that lasted 8 months, he arrives with his family in Hamburg where he lives in a temporary home for asylum seekers for 3 years. His father, an architect and former member of the Kabul elite, sends him to school. He is shunned as an outsider by fellow students but the teachers believed in him. They encourage him not to give up and to switch to a more academic secondary school. The family got an apartment in Hamburg’s “St. Georg” district and his father began to work as a taxi driver. Ruhin tries to get his bearings while also being true to both societies – he studies for his ‘Abitur’, studies karate and kickboxing with his brother and earns some money by delivering papers, waiting on tables, and working in a bakery.
“Many refugees cannot escape the trauma of seeking asylum, the loss of their homeland and the horrors of their escape,” says Ruhin. He himself needed 15 years before he felt like he really “arrived” in the German society. It is of paramount importance to give people time to become accustomed, and he gives courage to those who worry that Germany may not be in a position to take on so many people: “Refugees displaced by wars are the ones who can integrate the best. A country who shelters those seeking help is one that will be thanked and whose values will be protected”.
In the year 2004, Ruhin completes his Abitur. His German teacher advises him to continue onto University. Ruhin completes a degree in journalism and in social pedagogy while also coaching unaccompanied refugee children – something that has always been close to his heart. His most important message to these young and often severely traumatized people: “You may already be in Germany, but you have not ‘arrived’. When you are ready to do something about this, you can succeed in building a new life here.” The credibility of this message is best shown by Ruhin’s example. A team from ZDFinfo accompanies him on his therapeutic work in the report: “Neuanfang in Hamburg – vom Flüchtling zum Flüchtlingshelfer” – which translates roughly to: “A new start in Hamburg – from refugee to humanitarian”.
To continuously improve himself in his mission to help people, Ruhin Ashuftah attended a training seminar in London in 2014, learning talking therapy and behavior conditioning and going on the become a neurolinguistics therapist for traumatized refugees at the GRONE Netzwerk in Hamburg. Ruhin speaks fluent German, English, Dari, and Farsi, is an interpreter at the LKA Hamburg, in family court and in prisons. For a year, he worked for NATO at a military base in Munich and is now working on fulfilling his dream: to create a “Trauma- Erststabilisierungs-Zentrum” (a center for refugees dealing with trauma) for young refugees in Hamburg. Within this project, he will be responsible for the selection, care, and therapy of refugees, minors, and adults.
And there is also another important project: Ruhin is writing a book about his life. These projects make him happy and he hopes that his story is not only an example for a successful integration but also works to show people that Refugees, detached from religion and origin, are the same and to realize that they are driven by fate. If Ruhin Ashuftah can accomplish this, he has realized another huge goal.