Refugee Stories

Industrious from the start, Pablo began styling hair at the age of 14 and opened his own barbershop in Honduras when he was 22. His customers confided in him, and he would listen to them without judgment or criticism. But after a falling out with one of his customers, who also happened to be a powerful gang member, Pablo’s life took a turn for the worse.

He and his partner took a bus to Guatemala and then the Mexican border, where they crossed the river by boat and rode a van to the nearest town, Palenque. When they arrived, they were out of cash. Along the way, they had been extorted by almost everyone they encountered. To make matters worse, they were stopped by immigration officers, detained, and deported back to Honduras.

Their escape had been in vain.

As soon as they returned to Honduras, fearing for her son’s safety, Pablo’s mother collected more money and sent them back on their way.

This time, they were better prepared. With tips collected from other migrants during their first journey, they managed to avoid the immigration officers, reach one of Palenque’s migrant shelters, and approach Asylum Access Mexico (AAMX) for help in applying for asylum.

Pablo and his partner now run a successful barbershop thanks to the support of their neighbors and legal support from Asylum Access Mexico.

“I wouldn’t have been able to open my business without the documents. [The other business owners] really pressured me to close but I persevered, and once my documents were approved, they couldn’t close my business. Thanks to the lawyers at AAMX, I’m still here, working.”

Pablo Refugee from Honduras in Mexico

 

Growing up as an Ahmadi minority in Pakistan, a 17-year-old Nadia, her mother, and her little brother had long lived amid extensive discrimination and different forms of abuse. The situation of Nadia’s family deteriorated after her mother had decided to divorce her abusive father after 13 years suffering from domestic violence with frequent beatings by her father.

Nadia and her family arrived in Thailand in 2014 and knew about AAT from their neighbors. AAT helped prepare her family’s first instance testimony and supporting legal documents to submit to the UNHCR and also prepared them for Refugee Status Determination interview. With AAT’s help, Nadia and her family were successfully granted refugee status within one year.

We introduced Nadia to a refugee youth group supported by Asylum Access Thailand called Riders of the Storm. Thanks to them, Nadia is now studying for her GED and has reignited her dreams of studying at university. 

Nadia Refugee from Pakistan in Thailand

Rizha, his wife and 2 young children lived peacefully in Pakistan. As an Ahmadi who did much volunteer work for his community as a youth leader, Rizha was forced to flee Pakistan because of death threats, which were brought home when an assassination attempt was made on his life. To save his family from persecution and his own life, he sought refuge in Thailand.

With the help of a volunteer lawyer from Asylum Access Thailand, he was able to make his case persuasively regarding the dangers he faced in Pakistan, as the threats came not only from specific local communities but also from a state that did not protect Ahmadi people. Rizha worked on a detailed and revised testimonial with an AAT lawyer, and was able to make his case clear to the UNHCR officer in the appeal process. He and his family were recently given refugee status, and are now awaiting resettlement.

Rizha Refugee from Pakistan in Thailand