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“I really enjoy hanging out with my new friends”

Without his parents, family or friends, Khaled finally reached Sweden in October 2015. He settled in quickly and started school right after Christmas, now – almost two years later – he speaks Swedish almost fluently.

People playing volleyball

Khaled is 15 years old, with shy but friendly eyes. His hands are in his pockets, except when he’s wiping his hair out of his eyes. He often smiles.

Today he’s at a meetup in a park in Stockholm to play volleyball, barbeque and hang out with his new friends. The meetups are organized by the Red Cross Youth, to give unaccompanied children and youth a chance to a better start in Sweden. The social activities are meant to give the children a break from the stress and anxiety that the asylum process entails.

“They say my country is safe now, but last week another bomb exploded. How can they say it’s a safe country?”

— Khaled, 15 years old

Happy in school

Before Khaled came to Sweden, he lived with his mother and five siblings in Afghanistan. “They say my country is safe now, but last week another bomb exploded. How can they say it’s a safe country? But Sweden is safe. People are friendly here. It feels like you can become a good person just by living here,” Khaled says.

In Afghanistan, Khaled didn’t go to school since the way to get there was too dangerous. Instead he worked in a restaurant to earn money for his family. Here in Sweden he really likes school. Maths and English are his favourite subjects. He’s a great student with good grades and he says his teacher often describes him as enthusiastic and willing to learn.

For Kahled, his days are filled with school and activities. After school, there’s always something to do, someone to talk to. He lives in a home for unaccompanied children who are in the asylum process, along with other young people, and once every week the Red Cross Youth visits. They cook together and play theatre, through the Red Cross Youth he has found many new friends.

Through the meetups the children share new memories, experiences, thoughts and feelings. Like standing on a pair of skis for the first time, trying ice skating or tasting homemade cinnamon buns. “I really like it. They also help us with homework and sometimes we just watch a movie or talk. All of them are friendly,” he says.

Dreams about the future

Khaled seems to like his new life in the new country. He likes the home he’s living in, the nature and the swedes and he has great plans for the future. “In the future, I want to become an engineer. I love to fix things, if something’s broken I always fix it and I always try to understand how it works. That’s my dream,” he says.