I am Hussain.
I have been an asylum seeker all my life.
From the day of my birth and in every country in which I sought refuge, I have been treated as a criminal without ever committing a crime. The only thing I´ve ever wanted is to live in a peaceful country without any violence. To be treated as a normal human being and live a safe and normal life.
I belong to a minority group in Afghanistan called Hazara. My people have been persecuted, killed, enslaved, raped for centuries and to this day, by people with other religions or the Taliban and Daesh. I was born into a country in war, into a life of persecution. For almost 18 years, I have lived without a state and status.
My mother, sister and younger brother and I fled Afghanistan when I was four. We first went to Pakistan, where we lived illegal lives. I went to primary school there, until I was no longer allowed to do so. I was 10 years old then. So I found a job making carpets.
But in Pakistan, too, we were attacked and persecuted. Four years ago, I was 14 at the time, a bomb attack targeting a Hazara market left more than 150 people killed and hundreds injured. I was lucky to get out alive. As the oldest son of my family, I then took a decision: I told my mother and siblings I would leave in search of a country where we would all be safe. I am still looking.
I went to Iran and worked in construction for a year, illegally. I was caught by the police several times and had to give them the money I had earned to be released. After the third time, I decided to flee again, with the little money I had saved. The first part of my journey was hard, it was tough to travel all the way through Iran, alone and as an illegal. In Turkey I joined other families on the run and things got easier. The borders were still open then. Greece was the first country I got to in Europe.
In March of last year I came to Maastricht. Unaccompanied minors are housed in a separate section of the asylum seekers centre, so that´s where I have lived since.
My life has changed a lot here. I was so scared of other people at first. All I initially did was hide from others. It wasn´t just the language barrier. I had never really talked to anyone, had never trusted anyone before.
I´ve done so many things this past year. Being a minor, I had the opportunity to go to school. I speak Dutch and English, and go to whichever extra classes are offered. I like to cook and have cooked meals for large groups in the Maastricht community. As a member of Refugee Project Maastricht, I´ve helped organize social events. I have overcome my fear to speak in public by giving presentations aimed to raise public awareness of Afghan asylum seekers´ situations. I have volunteered for Serve the City. I love to play football and joined a local football club.
And just a month ago, I ran 16 kilometers in Unive Maastrichts Mooiste. In the middle of ramadan, in tropical circumstances under a beating sun, without accepting the bananas and the water offered to the runners. That´s not hard. Being on the run all of your life is what´s hard.
In just two months, in September, I will turn 18, and the Netherlands can send me back to Afghanistan, a country I have not lived in since I was four. A country that has never wanted me. I´m tired of fleeing. If Afghanistan was a safe country to live in for me and the Hazara people, I would not have left my country. But it isn´t safe. The immigration service does not believe me. If nothing else happens, they will deport me, as they will other Afghan minors and families whose applications for asylum have been rejected. We are not safe in Afghanistan. I´m scared.