Exchange to Change May 2017 20170524 EtC mei 2017-web - Page 14

14 IN THE PICTURE Afghanistan: eager to call it home                        This is the first fact that many who don’t know the reality of war tend to neglect: you don’t leave until you really have to. Until leaving becomes a matter of survival. For two years, Maaz Mamond somehow managed to escape the Taliban. In war-torn Afghanistan, it meant overthinking every step – the safest hours to arrive and leave his house, where to go and how to get there. But every day it was harder to believe that his efforts were enough to protect himself and his family. Maaz Mamond is a student at IOB, following a Masters programme in Development Evaluation Management. He arrived in Belgium in 29 June 2015 to apply for political asylum, and now lives in Antwerp with his wife and three sons. Mamond believes that this programme will provide him with relevant knowledge to create change in his own country – and he can’t wait to go home! E xchange to change M ay 2017 The Taliban would target anyone who supported the government. If they could not reach this person, they would harm their relatives instead. Kidnapping and torture, followed by a solemn invitation for the person of interest to appear before their court, was the most common procedure. The decision to leave Afghanistan came after the bombing of his children’s school and the killing of three brothers, who were his friends and nextdoor neighbours, just in front of his eyes. Unfortunately, bureaucracy doesn’t follow the rush of necessity. Mamond couldn’t wait for an answer to his U.S. visa application, and on 6 June 2015 fled the country to seek asylum in Belgium. What should be a 15-hour flight becomes a 23-day odyssey inside the world of human smuggling. “I am one of the lucky ones, who could afford documents, visas and ‘unexpected’ charges”, he says. Still, being forced to leave behind the life he had was not so straightforward. In Afghanistan, Mamond had a good job with USAID, and was also dedicated to mobilizing young men in social and political engagement. He believed that access to education and understanding of societal issues could prepare a new generation of leaders. Better leaders. Above all, he had his family there. Like most Afghans, they all lived together, some 30 people, in the same house. They were part of each others’ daily lives, and supported one another in difficult times.