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Photographer, Dreamer, Refugee

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He's a talented photographer whose work has been featured on major websites. He's also a survivor of genocide and refugee living on $121 a month. A person of his gifts deserves better - a second chance in Canada. We can help.

Name: Javed Hazara 
Profile: Refugee and photographer from Afghanistan, living in Makassar, Indonesia for the past seven years
Risk of Return: Kidnapping, torture, death
Advantages: Talented professional photographer, full UNHCR refugee status
The Opportunity: Private sponsorship to Canada 
Fundraising team: Marilyn Beech, Carole Simon, Cin Davidson and Stephen Watt 
What’s Needed: We’ve already raised $9,000 AUD! That means we only need $8,300 AUD (or $7,900 CAD - the currency of this GoFundMe) to sponsor Javed to Canada.

This is money he will live on during his first year in the country.

Growing Up a Refugee

Javed only enjoyed a few years of peace and security in his life. When he was growing up, his father and uncle owned a hotel in their home town of Ghazni City, Afghanistan. That made them targets of local Taliban extremists.

The attack on the hotel came in 1998, when Javed was five years old. His father was out of the building at the time. His uncle was not so lucky: he was tragically killed in the onslaught. And Javed’s father heard that the Taliban were after him next.

The family escaped to Quetta, Pakistan, where they lived the tough and dangerous life of being unwanted refugees. In this, they were following in the steps of countless other members of the Hazara people, who have suffered through horrific persecution and displacement for over five centuries.

The animosity toward them as Hazara and as refugees continued, even in Pakistan. On February 16, 2013, an explosion hit the Hazara area where Javed’s family lived. Javed, who was in the market at the time, was lucky to survive. A total of 200 people were injured and 91 were killed, all victims of an extremist group dedicated to wiping out the Hazara people.

Fleeing to Safety

The danger was too great for Javed to stay in Pakistan. And as the eldest son in the family, he was a target for the same violence that took his uncle in Afghanistan.

His mother made plans to get Javed to safety. On June 10, 2013, he took a bus to Islamabad, the capital of Pakistan. On June 19, he flew to Oman and on to Malaysia. Arriving in Kuala Lumpur, he spent 24 hours in a dark room, forbidden by the people smuggler from going outside.

The next day, he was picked up by car and taken to a location on the coast, where he and the other passengers were transferred under darkness to a crowded speedboat, for a dangerous ride to Indonesia.

“It was a difficult journey, and we should never forget our bad days. But from those days, we learn to struggle hard for our future.”

He stayed in Bogor, Indonesia for 11 months, then was interviewed by the UNHCR to be registered as a refugee. He stayed for 37 days in an immigration centre in Makassar, and then was taken to a detention centre with barbwire on top of the wall, where he was locked behind a metal gate.

He grew sick and nearly died of an appendix infection.

Tasting Freedom

Finally his luck turned for the better. On July 19 2014, he was finally set free into Makassar City. Making up for lost time, he devoted himself to taking online courses in photography and graphic design.

Within a few months of completing his first course, his pictures were being accepted by some of the world’s top online photography galleries .

Still, the life of a refugee in Indonesia is not easy. The UNHCR, which originally had promised to settle the refugees in Indonesia in other countries announced two years ago that it has no plans to do so.

Javed lives in basic UNHCR housing, with 21 refugees from around the world sharing a single kitchen. Each is given $121 Canadian a month, well below the poverty line. They are not legally permitted to work, leave the city, or stay out past curfew. The punishment for doing any of these things is to be locked up again in immigration detention.

“There is so much difficulty in being a refugee. There are moments when the disappointment makes you want to give up on humanity. But we have to be strong and commit to our dream of the future.”

You Can Help!

Javed dreams of a better life in a safe and welcoming country like Canada, where he can finally make a living from his gifts and build a lasting career – and life.

The dream lies within reach – with your help. Since he is officially certified as a refugee by the UNHCR – unlike the vast majority of the world’s refugees – Javed qualifies for Canada’s private sponsorship program.

A group of us, including Marilyn Beech, Carole Simon, Cin Davidson and Stephen Watt, are working to do just that – bring him to Canada. Before we can submit an application, however, we need to we have enough funds for his first 12 months of life in Canada. According to Canadian Immigration, the funds must be raised first and held in trust before the sponsorship application can move forward.

We’ve already raised $9,000 AUD. That means we only need $8,300 AUD (or $7,900 CAD) to submit the application!

The funds raised will go entirely towards Javed for his first year of expenses.

What’s next

To learn more about Javed, read his profile on the Northern Lights website . You can also reach out to him directly on Facebook . He has a   if you want to support him that way. And visit his YouTube channel  and Wordpress gallery  to see more examples of his terrific work.

If you can help, please click on the “Donate” button. Every dollar brings us one step to our goal.

Thank you for your support. And help spread the word by sharing this post!

Help a good guy get a second chance!

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Stephen Watt
Toronto, ON

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