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Behind the Tees: Interview with the Illustrator of 2019-20 SolidariTee

Our 2019-20 tees focus on Hope, Safety and Peace. This message and our design was inspired by Wahid Taraky, an Afghani asylum-seeker in Moria Camp Lesvos. Read more about his story and his journey to Europe below.

The 2019-20 'Peace' and 'Safety' SolidariTees

[Elena speaks to Wahid.]

Elena: Why do you think people leave Afghanistan?

Wahid: In my experience, people only leave Afghanistan when their lives back home are no longer safe. They leave their home and country, they cross borders and seek refuge in nations unfamiliar to them, for this is the only way they can establish lives that are secure. When our homes become precarious and our lives are endangered, how can people ask us to stay there? That’s why people leave: in search of a better future.

Elena: What does hope mean to you?

Wahid: We hoped that we would leave our homes for European countries – that was our only hope. We hope that we will still be welcome.

Elena: If you feel comfortable sharing, I’d really like to hear more about your personal background. What was your life like in Afghanistan?

Wahid: I was a teacher in Afghanistan – I taught in a university for 22 years. I did my undergraduate degree in Iraq and my masters in Tajikistan. When I graduated from university, I did so with high marks. When I finished, I was hired as a teacher – and now it has been 22 years that I have been teaching in my country. And I taught the field that I myself studied, the very same field.

Wahid Taraky drawing his designs

Elena: Was there anything specific that drove your family to start new lives in Europe?

Wahid: It is only here – not in Moria, or Mytilini – that we feel safe. Here, we are surrounded by laughter, by happiness, by people celebrating and sitting in restaurants and laughing. We didn’t see those things in Afghanistan.

Elena: Was the journey here difficult?

Wahid: Yes. We went from Iran to Turkey and from Turkey to Greece.

Elena: Could you tell me a bit more about the situation in Moria and how you’re experiencing it?

Wahid: The conditions in Moria are the same as in Afghanistan. It's unsafe – people are fighting, arguing, burning, killing, dying. It has been 45 years since the Revolution but in our minds it never ended and the fighting never stopped. We had no choice but to fight.

Elena: Do you have hope that things will change in the future?

Wahid: All my hope, love and patience is directed towards forging a peaceful life for my family. I spent my whole life surrounded by war, and I don’t want my children to grow up in the same situation. I brought them here for a new start, a better education, a better life.

Elena: Is there anything else you’d like to add?

Wahid: Nothing else. Just that when we meet people like you, who are happy, who receive each other with love and a smile, and who help us Afghani people, we imagine that you must have been raised in peaceful countries where you learned to act with friendship and love. Why isn’t life like that in our country? We are encouraged not to give up when people like you engage with us.

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