“We had a very good life in Pakistan, our own house and everything,” begins Aviv. “Then suddenly, everything went wrong and we lost it all.”
When Aviv and his family were forced to flee their home in Pakistan due to religious persecution, they arrived in Thailand only to be met with another harsh reality.
“We are still facing persecution, but in a different way. It’s hard to find food or a safe place to live. The greatest danger is that if you’re found by the immigration police they will arrest and detain you.”
Refugees in Bangkok are at constant risk of arrest and detention. To avoid being identified, they become invisible. They hide in their rooms, unable to attend school or work – for years at a time.
With the help of Asylum Access Thailand (AAT), Aviv and his family were prepped for their first-instance interview with the UNHCR that would determine their refugee status.
“Because of AAT’s help, we had an idea of how to work with an interpreter and how to prepare for the interview. We would never have known how to deal with such questions because most refugees have never had these kinds of issues or interviews. Without AAT, the whole process would be quite difficult for refugees.”
Despite everything they’ve been though and continue to face, refugees like Aviv find the strength to make the most of their circumstances. Aviv interprets for other Pakistani refugees at AAT while his wife home schools their children. As a family, they are learning Thai, meeting with other Pakistani Christians to worship together, and even organizing workshops to teach refugees useful skills as a way to generate income.