Comfort in a Cup of Coffee

Refugee and BiH citizens together
Thursday, February 8, 2024

By Amira Delic, Project Officer within the Response to Refugee and Migrant Crisis*

Eager to improve her communication skills, Safi (19) started attending English classes. Originally from Afghanistan, Safi is currently residing in the reception centre in the north of Bosnia and Herzegovina, where the lessons take place.

Safi wants to continue her education, which was interrupted in Afghanistan. She wants to become a doctor and help women and children, and she was joyous to hear of the opportunity to practice her spoken English and learn a bit of the local language while having coffee with locals. 

Language classes and community meetings are a part of the World Vision BiH programme providing mental health and psychosocial support to people on the move currently residing in BiH, and build empathy and solidary among them and local population. These activities are supported through the regional project of the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) “Social participation of people on the move and local population in host regions of the Western Balkans”.

 Safi and several other women on the move met with the BiH citizens at the local coffee shop. Safi shared her plans for the future and exchanged recipes for traditional dishes from Afghanistan. The participants found similarities in the kitchens of BiH and Afghanistan. Relaxedly, the women also discussed traditional recipes for skin, face and hair care, and showed the henna drawings they made earlier to their sisters and relatives.

After a meeting, Safi said she felt happy and accepted during the meeting and that she was glad that she had the opportunity to meet women from the local community. As she states, the two hours they spent together cheered her up. 

"During the conversation with the women, I felt as if I had been a part of the community for a long time“, said Safi.

young refugee in bosnia

She also says that she felt happy because the women she talked to were of a similar age to her mother, who remained in Afghanistan, and she remembered similar conversations with her mother and sisters earlier and hopes that they will be with her again soon.

During the journey from Afghanistan to Bosnia and Herzegovina, Safi encountered many difficulties and fears and was often in the company of relatives with whom she discussed plans for how to continue the journey, and this meeting at least slightly diverted her thoughts to what she loves and which will always be a part of her, wherever she ends up living. She is grateful for the support and acceptance of the local population in Bosnia and Herzegovina, for whom she has nothing but praise for their humanity and willingness to make their journey to the fulfilment of their dreams at least a little easier.

* names changed for identity protection.