‘You are free’: What it felt like to flee Afghanistan for a new life in New Zealand – Stuff.co.nz

Posted: November 28, 2021 at 9:45 pm

Two months after my family and I fled Afghanistan, writing and even thinking about our journey to New Zealand is still very hard for me. My experience seems like a dream.

When the Taliban came to my city, Kabul, it felt like our lives just stopped. We were all in shock. We had no hope for the future.

Some wealthy, powerful and well-connected people were able to leave the country. Many others were left behind and felt abandoned by the international community.

My family was in danger because of my fathers profession, so for weeks we hid from the Taliban. Fortunately we were given visas by the New Zealand government.

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It was very hard for us to leave Afghanistan, but we had no choice. I had to say goodbye to friends and relatives. My heart felt broken.

One morning a driver came to our house and drove us to Pakistan. I was scared when we saw Taliban checkpoints on the way.


Yousef Obidi, 10, fled Afghanistan with his family for a new life in NZ. Pictured at Aucklands Piha.

At the border there were many Taliban. One asked my family, Why are you trying to leave the country? We told him my mother was ill and needed hospital treatment in Islamabad.

When we were allowed to cross the border I felt a mix of happiness and sadness. I was happy because we were no longer in danger but sad because we were leaving our beloved homeland.

For three weeks we stayed in a guesthouse while our paperwork was processed. Louise, a diplomat from New Zealands foreign ministry, talked to us and helped us a lot.

A week after we arrived in Pakistan, a Taliban commander called my father from Kabul. He told my father that the Taliban were looking for him and they had seized our home.

That was a very dark day.


Yousef Obidi outside MIQ.

Finally all our paperwork was finished by the New Zealand officials, and my family and I went to Islamabad airport. I was excited but also nervous because we were questioned a lot.

When we landed in Doha I was more relaxed. For the first time I started to believe that everything would work out. I told my mum that it felt like a miracle.

The trip to Auckland was very long. We stopped in Brisbane for an hour, and I thought about New Zealand while we waited. I had read on the internet that its a very peaceful country.

It was an incredible feeling when we landed in Auckland. We arrived at 1am and it was really cold, but my body felt full of energy.

A police officer met us when we walked of the plane. I said Kia Ora to him. He smiled and greeted me in the Mori language and asked if I was OK.

New Zealand Defence Force/Supplied

A Defence Force Hercules on its first flight into Kabul's international airport as part of a coalition effort to evacuate foreign citizens and Afghans at risk of the Taliban's takeover.

My family and I were taken to an MIQ hotel. For two weeks I focused on improving my English and learning more about life in New Zealand.

The hotel staff were friendly and helpful. The food was a bit unusual for me and my mum and sisters, but my father thought it was good.

We were happy when we passed our Covid tests. After 14 days, one of the MIQ staff told us, You are free!

When we left the hotel and went into Auckland I saw a new world. I saw hills and trees and the Auckland harbour. It was very beautiful.

Im excited about the future and looking forward to school. My goal is to be a doctor because I want to help people.

I want to thank the officials and the people of New Zealand for everything theyve done for us especially Louise, the diplomat. We will never forget her kindness.

After many years of war we are living free of danger. Our nightmare is finally over.


'You are free': What it felt like to flee Afghanistan for a new life in New Zealand - Stuff.co.nz

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