Maryam, 20, faced a long and arduous road before coming to Hagar. Her mother, alone and homeless and then a refugee in Iran, died giving birth to Maryam. She was then adopted by an aunt and uncle. She never felt safe or relaxed at her new home and when she was only nine years old a terrible breach of trust occurred, which proved her fears correct, a family friend raped her and her uncle did nothing to protect her.
Soon after this, Maryam’s aunt found out her husband was having an affair and so took Maryam and returned to Afghanistan. Her uncle followed them to Afghanistan and a few months later found Maryam. He took her to his new home and she was again raped. She was devastated but bore the burden in silence until eventually, life became so unbearable that she had to escape.
She was introduced to a driver who was on his way to Kabul, and she decided to take this chance at a new life in the capital, even though she didn’t know the man well. In Afghan culture, it can be nearly impossible for some women to support themselves independently, without being under the care of a male relative. So life’s circumstances compelled her to stay with this man’s family, simply for the sake of protection and mere survival.
The driver had a wife and five children, but he also took Maryam as his wife, although there was no legal or religious ceremony. She was totally unprotected in this household and was sexually and physically abused. She stayed with this man until pressure and death threats from his extended family forced her out, and she was again alone and adrift, without a means of support.
It was at this point that she went to the UN’s refugee agency (UNHCR) and told them her whole story. She was then referred to Hagar and TCC.
Since arriving at TCC, she has pleased everyone with her intelligence and skill in pursuing her education. As a result of her excellence in an accelerated (“catch-up”) education course, she passed a talent exam that has allowed her to re-enter the school system many classes above where she left before her troubles began. This last year she won first place in her exams a success in which the whole of Hagar celebrated with her.
“Since staying at TCC, my whole life has changed. Not only have I been able to get an education, but I have found that I am really good at my studies. I have been promoted a lot. This year I came first in my exams. This was such an amazing moment for me. Before I felt as if I was nothing, and now I have taken first place. I have used all the opportunities provided for me here, education opportunities in particular. “
“This is such a significant change in my life, and I am very grateful to be given a chance to flourish.”