I have always enjoyed studying anthropological and social matters. In my country of origin, Iran, after years of inertia, towards the mid-twentieth century, people began to migrate, above all young diplomats and graduates who wanted to study in western Europe and North America.

I am an immigrant. At the end of the sixties, I came to Italy with a university study visa; in other words, I entered this country by the front door. However, in order to avoid being a burden to my family, for four years, during the summer holidays, I went to work in Germany or Switzerland and learned German.

In these two countries, in the student residences and the factories, I lived amongst students and workers, both German and immigrants from southern Europe. At the time, there were only a few Turkish, Iranian or Afghan workers amongst my colleagues. That is why I understand the problems of those who are living abroad, the thoughts and the feelings of immigrants and the difficulties they have to face in their daily lives when dealing with the local population and their landlords.

It is evident that these difficulties are even greater for a refugee, because he or she has often left everything behind them and cannot count on the financial support of relatives. Often it is impossible for them to return home.

At the beginning of the eighties, after the Soviet invasion and the popular uprising, this was the destiny of many Afghans, forced to flee their homes and find peace and protection in the two neighbouring Muslim countries, Iran and Pakistan. Until the mid-eighteenth century, the north-western Afghan provinces were part of the great Khorasan, the region where I was born and raised, and I have always read with great interest the news of this exodus. At the time, I was an importer of Persian rugs, living in Italy. When I returned to my region in search of tribal rugs, I visited a refugee camp for Afghans and met some of the weavers and their families. I listened to the story of their flight, their sufferings and their plans for the future.

We exchanged ideas and information. I did not notice any fundamental difference between them and my Iranian compatriots. Rather, as far as the women were concerned, on the contrary to the stereotype image of Afghan women that I had imagined, I was struck by the tenacity, the strong personality and the creativity of the young women I met on this voyage. I listened to their stories and I purchased their rugs, which are still part of my collection.

I generally write articles and essays but, thirty years after a particular meeting in May 1981, I realized how topical that story was and this, together with my ongoing interest in this question, led me to write this story of the ‘Girls from Afghanistan’ who lived in the camp at Dogharun.

From a conversation with Hossein – Fayaz Torshizi author of the book “The girls from Afghanistan”, Fayaz Publisher (Fayaz Editore), Morciano di Romagna(RN), Italy, 2015.Copyright: Hossein Fayaz www.hosseinfayaz.com


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