TeamUp: An Escape from Uncertainty

Sara (14) escaped the humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan to find refuge in the Netherlands. Sara experienced significant stress during her journey to safety - and now lives with her family in an asylum reception centre. Her life remains uncertain - but Sara finds vital support and stability by taking part in our TeamUp coalition programme. She shares her story here…

“Now, four years after our flight, things are better - but still uncertain.”

Sara (14) from Afghanistan

“My name is Sara and I am 14 years old. I grew up in Afghanistan but several years ago - when I was still young - the violence there got worse and my parents, my brothers and sisters and I had to flee. I now struggle to remember much about the country I was born in. The journey wasn’t easy - we had to stay in Iran for a long time. We eventually made it to the Netherlands, where we were able to start a new life together.

A Sense of Release

“I never expected to stay here for so long. We have lived in several asylum reception centres since we arrived, and unfortunately, we still live in an asylum centre. Luckily all of them have had TeamUp activities.

I’ve been going to TeamUp for years now, ever since I arrived in the Netherlands. TeamUp is a programme that helps refugee children and parents like me and my family. It gives us a sense of release, structure and stability.”

“TeamUp helps me to forget some things I don’t want to remember - and focus on nice things instead.”

Sara (14) from Afghanistan

“At TeamUp, we often play games. Usually dodgeball, which is my favourite. The TeamUp facilitators also help me improve my Dutch. I love to play. I’m fourteen years old now and some people say I’m too old for the activities - but I don’t agree. TeamUp helps me a lot. It helps me to forget some things I don’t want to remember - and focus on nice things instead.”

Sara and her siblings | Photographer: Michael Jessurun

An Uncertain Future

“Life in the asylum reception centres is difficult and stressful. It sometimes makes me anxious. It's currently more difficult than ever - because a few days ago we received a letter saying that we are no longer allowed to stay in the Netherlands. It makes me really sad that we have to go. My mother, my sister - everyone was crying. Me too. We are still in danger. I don’t want to go back to Afghanistan. I am very afraid for my future.”

Moment of Escape

“After fighting so hard to make it work in the Netherlands, we now have to leave. I have a hard time sleeping again. I have nightmares - just like the ones I had when we first arrived. My family and I are trying to stay positive, though. My parents are volunteers at a local retirement home and my dad also gives swimming lessons. We all try to keep busy.

Michael Jessurun

I am happy that - for now - I can still go to TeamUp every week. TeamUp has always been like a beacon of hope for me. The programme has helped me grow, make many new friends and learn how to deal with my emotions.”

“Right now, those skills are not just helpful - they’re vital.”