The Refugee Advisory Board (RAB) supports the leadership of refugees through their participation in policy development processes that have a direct impact on the well-being of refugee communities with a focus on local integration. It consists of 11 members who are asylum seekers, refugees and one stateless person from Syria, Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan and Yemen. The RAB operates with the support of UNHCR Bulgaria.
Members of the Refugee Advisory Board
Ali is from Syria and is an architecture student. One day he dreams of becoming a successful architect. He says: “when we climb the mountain at night and see the beautiful cityscape and the flickering lights, we do not know who lives there: where he is from, what faith he is from, what ideology or religion he professes. We see a beautiful city and a community. From the quote below, I have learned to present what I know for the benefit of humanity and society.
“You must not lose faith in humanity. Humanity is an ocean; if a few drops of the ocean are dirty, the ocean does not become dirty.” (Mahatma Gandhi)
Alias is 37 years old and has many identities. He is a refugee, a traveler, a husband, a teacher, a father and maybe your future advisor and friend! He loves to travel, read, write, dance, listen to music, meet new people and learn new things. His strengths are administration and management, and translation into Arabic, Spanish and English. He has many years of experience in teaching Arabic and Spanish at various universities.
The reason he chose to be part of the Refugee Advisory Board is that each piece of it belongs to some part of the world, and helping others reinforces that spirit and helps the pieces come together.
Ahmed is an electrical engineer from Iraq. He worked in the independent press for 8 years in addition to his work in construction and decoration. He has lived in Bulgaria since 2015. He worked in humanitarian organizations in Bulgaria (Caritas Sofia) for 4 years as a coordinator of the integration program (orientation program) and the employment program (Career Center). Through his work he has gained vast experience in the humanitarian field. He currently works in a technology company in Bulgaria. As a member of the Refugee Advisory Board, he wants to be the voice of refugees, as well as part of solving the problems they face. He wants to create a positive image of Bulgarian society among refugees
Beuar is from Northern Iraq, Kurdistan. He is a graduate of the College of Administration and Economics, Department of Business Administration. He works as a photographer with more than 13 years of experience as a documentary photographer and photojournalist.
For more than 7 years he has worked with many organizations, e.g. the French Red Cross, Allend, Caritas Sofia, Youthilde, in Northern Iraq, Kurdistan, and Bulgaria, aiming to make this world a better place, to help us accept it as it is, but also to accept change. Change is needed not only in the world, but also in oneself. His work and talent give him the opportunity to meet exceptional and sunny people who live all over the world. Life is full of difficult moments, poor people, wars, life problems and many more, and to be able to support refugees and help them develop their skills to start a new life, Beuar has participated in several youth leadership and decision-making training courses.
Kays is 29 years old and was born in Northern Afghanistan. He has been in Bulgaria since 2016 and currently works for an international company. He has worked as a social mediator and translator at Centre for Legal Aid Voice in Bulgaria. He likes to be busy and use every opportunity to build a bright future for the benefit of Bulgarian society. He studied English literature at the University of Balkh, Afghanistan. He speaks English, Pashto, Dari, Farsi and a little Hindi; studies Bulgarian language. Kays is in close contact with the Afghan community in Bulgaria. He likes Bulgaria because of the warm, hospitable and friendly people and sees many common features between Bulgarians and Afghans.
His advice to newly-arrived refugees and asylum seekers in Bulgaria is to be patient, to look for opportunities for development and work.
Sagir is a doctor in a Bulgarian village near Plovdiv. He says it is an honor for him to be where he learns how to be human, to be reminded every day how different we can be, but also how much we all look alike. He believes that all that is needed to achieve joy, peace and prosperity are three elements: to see ourselves as human beings, to tolerate differences and to respect each other. Only in this way will we be able to observe the development of something magical.
Sagir was born 30 years ago and is stateless: having a stateless father and a stateless grandfather before him. He has been in Bulgaria since 2007-2008. He graduated from a medical university a few years ago and hopes to continue with a specialization in cardiac surgery.
He fights the saying, “You can’t give what you don’t have or don’t possess.” He wants to give what he has never had to those in need: a voice, ears and a thinking mind. He is highly motivated to participate in the decision-making processes that concern refugees in Bulgaria, and this motivates him to be part of the Refugee Advisory Board.
Salman was born in Iraq. He enrolled in dental medicine at the University of Najaf, Iraq, but for security reasons did not manage to complete his degree. After arriving in Bulgaria, he noticed and experienced first-hand many difficulties faced by refugees, as well as many limited opportunities for realization. He joined the Refugee Advisory Board to try to contribute to the achievement of some changes for the improvement of the refugee reception and integration systems in Bulgaria. He currently works for an international company. Salman is the youngest member of the team, but his enthusiasm and ambition do not stop him from moving forward.
Sara is an interior designer and a refugee from Yemen, a country that bears the brunt of wars, poverty, disease and lack of knowledge, where human rights are taken away and human dignity is violated and wasted.
She looks forward to contributing to changing refugee policies, listening to refugees and giving them freedom and dignity, and to contributing to the protection of the rights of women survivors of violence.
She believes that refugees and the host community can live in complete peace and harmony, and that the first steps to achieve this involve a focus on education and the strengthening of law and order for the benefit of all.
Silsila is from Afghanistan and has lived in Bulgaria since 2015. She studied civil engineering in Afghanistan and is currently studying economics and control at the New Bulgarian University. She worked for 4 years in radio and television as a TV presenter. In Bulgaria she has worked in a non-governmental organization (Caritas Sofia) as a case manager. She now owns a fashion company that produces modern clothing (a combination of East and West) by refugee women living in Bulgaria. For Silsila, being part of the Refugee Advisory Board means a lot because being the voice of women is invaluable. She hopes and wants to encourage many other women to be able to stand up for themselves, be able to be independent and make choices for their lives.
Faegheh, briefly Faye, is a journalist, translator and teacher, started her early advocacy for the Green Front of Iran as an environmentalist and later as a campaigner and reporter for the Million Signatures for Equality in Iran.
In Bulgaria, she focuses on building a dialogue between refugees and host communities. Her publications are mainly in Persian, and she sees herself as part of a tradition of storytelling that is deeply rooted in the East. She has shared glimpses of the East with Bulgarian participants in three seminars, including by contributing to the compilation of the book “Persian and Bulgarian Words and Roots in Common”, 2012.
As a human rights defender, she sees the crisis of the “disoriented people of the Orient” as a unique opportunity to form an active multicultural society. Questioning the roles of the sexes and recognizing the chances and potential of different perspectives are key blocks for building new narratives that serve to form an educational dialogue related to the cultures of the two worlds. This is possible only if refugees are seen as opportunities and solutions to the most basic problems, but not as a burden.
Hamid is a translator and coordinator at Mission Wings Foundation and a translator at Centre for Legal Aid Voice in Bulgaria. He has been in Bulgaria since 2019; holds a bachelor’s degree in applied physics from the Semnan University, Iran. He used to be a sales expert and manager. He wants to find a way to build a better future for refugees and asylum seekers and to help find solutions to their current problems considering the context of the host society. His motto is “let’s build a good future in order to live it together.”