A baby girl was born in 1985, but the family was not happy at her birth. They wanted a boy. She was the second child; before her came a sister. But with time, the family thought she was sweet. They named her Nasima.

The girl lived for three years in the Shams Abad refugee camp in Iran and she liked her baby life. She didn’t know that she was a refugee. She did not ask, What is a refugee? What are the problems of refugees?

When Nasima was one year old the Iranian police nabbed her father. He had been falsely accused. There were specific charges, bu he was innocent. The police of Iran liked to grind down the refugees in the desert camp.

The father was jailed for three months. Finally, the police could find nothing against him and had to deliver him home.

But during this time, the family had to find money, so the mother tailored clothing and weaved carpets. She couldn’t work at night, though, because the police wouldn’t let her. They came to their home and harassed them so the mother began sewing at night by the light of a little oil lamp. She also sold carpet for a businessman but the man paid her very little.

Eventually, a boy was born to the family and they were happy. But the situation in Shams Abad camp became worse, as day by day the Iranian soldiers abused the refugees. There was no water some days, and there was hunger, too much, in the camp. People became sick, but there were no medicines or doctors.

The government of Iran broadcasted the news that all refugees must leave the camp because it would soon be destroyed. Despite the problems in the camp, the refugees didn’t want to go—they didn’t have any money for travelling, and they’d made mud houses on land bought from the Iranian government and had been making payments.

The family had a little gear: one cotton carpet the mother had woven, one small gas tank, one small pot, and a few other things. They packed them all and travelled 800 miles to a city in the center of Iran, a city in Yazd province, traveling two days in a bus. It was 1989, and they started a new life with a new idea.

By Nasima

Editor’s note: Our writer will continue with her story of the girl’s life and how the family lived in Iran as refugees for many years. 

AP Photo/Emilio Morenatti