Afghan boy saved from death eyes reunion with family
by Daily Sabah with AA
ISTANBULJan 17, 2017 - 12:00 am GMT+3
by Daily Sabah with AA
Jan 17, 2017 12:00 am
Samer Zaheri was only 9 years old when he was saved from certain death in eastern Turkey last year, after he was left behind in freezing temperatures by the group of illegal immigrants he was traveling with.
After receiving treatment at a local hospital, Zaheri was enrolled in school and the young boy has finally put the grueling journey and drama behind. He says he now looks forward to reuniting with his parents settled in Denmark, though it might be difficult to sever his bonds with his newly adopted home. Zaheri quickly managed to learn Turkish at the primary school which he was enrolled while awaiting the processing of his application to travel to Denmark.
Zaheri and his brother were entrusted to their uncle since his parents took their other three children and made their way to Europe as illegal immigrants last year. The uncle took Zaheri and his brother and followed the same path two months later.
They managed to sneak into Turkey from the country's eastern border and were able to reach as far as Pasinler, a small town in the eastern province of Erzurum where below-zero temperatures are prevalent for most of the year.
After he fell ill, the young boy was unable to travel any longer and the others in the group decided to abandon him near a gas station.
The boy was almost freezing to death when a passerby noticed him and took him to the hospital where he received treatment. Zahir was later reunited with his uncle who returned to Erzurum to find him after the boat he was traveling on in an attempt to reach Europe from Turkey's Aegean coast sank.
From his uncle, he learned his parents found asylum in Denmark.
Haşim Özcan, who heads the local immigration authority in Erzurum, says the young boy's story "deserves to be put on film." He and others learned the full extent of the story when an Afghan family living in Erzurum helped interpret the young boy's words who spoke nothing other than Pashto.
"He had almost lost his fingers to frostbite when we found him with an older boy. They told him people would help them and they would return to take them," he related. "We further learned about his story when his uncle returned. He was sent to a home for children [who lost their parents] and with the aid of his uncle, he managed to contact his parents. They had video calls but they will reunite physically next month," Özcan says.