Photojournalist Rachael Cerrotti covers changing immigration laws in Sweden
For now, Hadi and Mahdi are living with uncertainty. They are lucky to be granted permanent residency in Sweden, but with rising anti-immigrant sentiments across the country, they live in their new home as an outsider. They don’t know if their family will join them or if they will face their future alone. Credit: Rachael Cerrotti for PRI.
By: Rachael Cerrotti
Editor’s note: This story by ivoh freelancer and summit attendee Rachael Cerrotti was originally published by PRI on September 11, 2017. An excerpt is being republished here with PRI’s permission. Cerrotti also recently wrote “Why telling my grandmother’s story helped me better understand today’s refugees,” in which she describes researching and tracing the route that led her grandmother to America. Read more of Rachael’s ivoh stories here.
In 2015, hundreds of thousands of migrants and refugees walked their way through Europe in search of a hopeful future. Sweden, a country historically known for it’s welcoming attitude towards refugees took in more people more capita than any other country. Over 165,000 people applied for asylum that year alone.
Hadi and Mahdi, twin brothers from Afghanistan, were two of 35,000 children who made the journey to Sweden without their parents. They now live in a group home for boys outside of Lund in Southern Sweden. They left their mother and four older sisters in Iran; their father disappeared at the Iranian border when they fled Afghanistan.
Every unaccompanied child in Sweden is guaranteed a legal guardian, known locally as a ‘goodman.’ Hadi and Mahdi have Annika who has made it her full-time responsibility that they feel appreciated and wanted in a country that is pushing back against their historically welcoming-attitude towards immigrants. She has taken them in as grandchildren, investing in their wellbeing and doing everything she can to see that their mother and sisters are granted permission to join the boys in Sweden.
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