Social, active and efficient: that’s how Nadjim, 31, describes himself in three words. Originally from Afghanistan, he had to flee his country because of the war. Currently residing in the culturally diverse city of Antwerp, he works at Atlas– a state-funded organization promoting diversity and helping newcomers to integrate within the society. He is one of the almost 200.000 people in Antwerp with a migrant background.
Nadjim finds his job at Atlas rewarding. “I love working here, I love helping people”, he said. “Once upon a time I was also a newcomer here in Antwerp. I came to Atlasby myself to the other side of desk, and right now, I’m sitting at the other side, helping other people.”
He hugely values his family: “They are my life, they are everything to me. Who I am right now is all due to my family. If they weren’t here, I wouldn’t be either.”
Nadjim thinks about living in Antwerp for the rest of his life. He would really love to return in his country, but a lot of things disappoint him and keep him from taking such a decision. Unless war in Afghanistan does not stop, Nadjim won’ t return where he comes from. However, he hopes the situation in Afghanistan will become more stable, in order to return and help his fellow Afghans. “Hopefully, tomorrow we will have peace and I will return back to Afghanistan. I want to help. I want to do everything for my country”.
Although he really loves his country, he strongly believes that Afghans need to change and become more open to new ideas. Moreover, he admits that a lot of Afghan people who live now in Antwerp cannot totally adjust to a different way of living. Instead, they want to have the same living they had in their country. “But the thing is that the life we had in Afghanistan, we left that. We came here, we chose to live here. The culture, everything has changed.”
Although he misses his home country, he enjoys living in Antwerp.
Nadjim says he feels like home in Antwerp, although things are different from his home country: “I’m active here, I’m working, I’m doing sports, I’m studying, and my family’s here. I have friends and good colleagues. But if you say home-home, it can’t be that.”
Regarding his place in society, Nadjim said: “I can be useful here. I can guide people and tell them what to do around. If any person comes with a question about Antwerp or living in Belgium, I can give them an answer or send them where they can find answers.”
When it comes to describing war, Nadjim has difficulties finding his words. “It’s really difficult to talk about war… The word waris not a simple or small word. The thing is, you don’t know why the war is there, who fights whom.”
Nadjim also offers a piece of advice to young Afghan people: “Don’t waste your time. Just try to study, try to learn the language, try to be active. You can do anything that you want – you can make a goal and you can achieve it. You just need to go for it.”
The story of Najim has made him stronger as a person. One of the most difficult parts of his life was when he left his country and moved to Belgium, without money, friends and a specific aim. He had to make a lot of new beginnings in his life and that makes him talk more carefully about future plans. Actually, he feels unsafe about future and prefers to make short-termed scenarios. Now, he tries to help other people who handle such difficulties in their life and that rewards him everyday.