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I.M.O.W. Team

On Small Shoulders: Khoshboo’s Story (Iran)

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On Small Shoulders: Khoshboo's Story
Tehran, Iran. 2007. Digital.

Khoshboo is a 13-year-old Afghan girl living in Iran with her family. Her father, Abdolkhalil, is deaf, mute and partially blind. Her mother has gallstone problems, and her younger brother Davood has mental disabilities. She has a nine-year-old sister, Arezoo. It is up to Khoshboo to support the family.

An estimated one million Afghan refugees live in Iran, following decades of conflict in their home country. Khoshboo's parents came to Tehran during the war against the Taliban. In 2003, they returned to Afghanistan, but Khoshboo's youngest brother was killed during an attack on their home and Abdolkhalil received an eye injury. The family moved back to Tehran where Khoshboo, Arezoo and Davood were born. Their visa, and now also the family passport--their only official identity document--have both expired. The Iranian government takes the position that while the country accepted refugees during internal conflict with the Taliban in Afghanistan, it is not responsible for those fleeing ongoing disruption as a result of what it sees as US and NATO failure to establish stability. Recent arrivals, including Khoshboo and her family, are deemed illegal immigrants. This means that the family has no health insurance, cannot receive social security payments, and that the children are not authorized to study in state schools.

While Khoshboo has demonstrated an incredible strength of spirit and is the hope and support for her family in the face of many obstacles, their future is still incredibly tenuous. Some organizations, such as the United Nations Refugee Agency, advocate on behalf of refugees. These organizations support the revision of refugee legislation in countries where Afghani refugees live and try to improve the living conditions for Afghani refugees by offering legal advice and access to education.

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