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Mother’s sacrifice to send son to safety

A 16 year old Afghan boy has told how his mother gave up everything including the chance of seeing him again, to pay for his trip to safety in Indonesia.

Ghulam Reza’s mother gave up nearly all the money she had to send him off to find safety in Indonesia as a refugee. After her husband, a driver, was killed by militants three years ago, Reza’s mother sold their land and set out for the capital, Kabul, hoping from there to escape to Pakistan. But before they managed to flee, rebels captured Reza, his mother, three younger brothers and the dozen other people they were travelling with. "The militants said they would not leave a single young man in good health," Reza remembered. "They said they would only release the young men after beating and harming us," he told Reuters’ Alertnet news service.

After three days being held prisoner, Reza and another boy tried to escape. The women tied their headscarves together to make a rope the teenagers could climb down, to escape from the third floor of the old house they were being held in. As they said their goodbyes, Reza’s mother gave him about £5,000, ($7,000) nearly all she made from the land, to pay for him to get to Pakistan. After spending months in Kabul for news of his family, he used the case to pay for a place on a smuggler's boat to Australia. But the smugglers abandoned him in Indonesia nine months ago. He was sleeping in a park in the capital Jakarta until he found his way to the United Nations refugee agency (UNHCR).

With help from the organisation, Reza is living eight other teenage refugee boys at a temporary shelter outside the capital. He even has an early morning job in a hotel’s bakery where he earns about £1.50 a day, which is enough to buy him two meals.  They go to the Jakarta International School as part of a special deal worked out by the refugee agency. "It's really important for these teenage refugees who are here on their own not only to have a chance to learn, but also to have a chance to rebuild their lives and spirits after all they have gone through," UNHCR's Indonesia representative Manuel Jordao, said. "We're very grateful to both the Jakarta International School for giving them that opportunity."

Hayley attribution