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Thursday, 18 October, 2001, 16:27 GMT 17:27 UK
Refugee children speak out
Farid Ahmed
Farid says he wants to tell his story to the world
Farid Ahmad's mother urged him to flee Afghanistan late last year to stop him getting caught up in the civil war.

He trekked - by foot and by lorry - to reach England in January this year.

Now he watches television coverage of the bombing of Afghanistan with horror, not knowing where his mother and sisters are.

His father was killed earlier during the civil war.

"I have heard, through friends and relatives that they are alright, but I do not know where they are," he told BBC News Online.

Afghan refugees in Pakistan
Farid is one of millions of people who have fled Afghanistan
"I am very upset when I watch the television news.

"They hit my village - Jalalabad - and people died.

"I saw a man who had lost all of his family.

"They are very poor people, they have nothing to eat, they have nothing and someone attacks them again and again.

"I want to tell the world that Afghanistan is not a house of terrorism, it is a good country but Afghanistan's neighbours have interfered.

"How did rockets come there? They made the people like this."

Farid now lives with an older brother in west London and is one of several refugee pupils at Villiers High School in Southall who have chosen to tell their stories - to each other and to the school counsellor.

Assistant head teacher Dai Jones says Farid approached him after September 11 and said he wanted to tell his story.


They hit my village - Jalalabad - and people died

Farid Ahmad
The school set up a project - led by two older pupils - which gave refugee children a chance to get together to talk about their experiences.

Some - like Farid - have written accounts of what happened to them.

The pupils involved - who number about 20 - have said they want to record their experiences in various ways and the school is looking for writers and photographers to help.

Assistant head teacher Dai Jones said: "We have refugees here from conflicts in about 15 different countries including Somalia, Sri Lanka and Uzbekistan. They are not economic migrants.

"After Farid came to me, we decided to ask two year 10 pupils who are very bright and sensitive - and they became the gatherers of the stories.

"We didn't want it to be led by teachers.

"We're standing back, trying to let the children talk just if they want to - not because a teacher has told them to.

damaged buildings in Kabul
Images of destruction in Afghanistan upset Farid
Mr Jones says much good has already come from the scheme.

"We have one girl, a refugee from Somalia, whose dad died in a rocket attack.

"She had re-invented her father, saying letters had to be written to him, saying he had done this or that or that he had bought her something.

"But she has said that talking about her experiences recently has helped her to come to terms with what happened and she doesn't do that any more.

"She said she was jealous, listening to other children talk about their dads."

Mr Jones says not all refugees want to talk: "Some have come to talk about it, but others say their mums and dads have told them not to because they fear the Taleban will come and find them.

"We respect their views - their fears are real to them."


Key stories

Background

War view

TALKING POINT

FORUM

SPECIAL REPORTS
See also:

18 Oct 01 | Education
A refugee's story
15 Oct 01 | Education
Advice for schools on war
08 Oct 01 | Education
Today's assembly is about war
19 Sep 01 | South Asia
Analysis: Inside Afghanistan
28 Sep 01 | Education
A teacher's view of the camps
08 Oct 01 | Education
Head reassures Muslim pupils
Links to more Education stories are at the foot of the page.


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