An Afghan Refugee Built a Robot as a Message of Hope – The New York Times

Mr. Karimi was personally threatened by unknown assailants when he and his wife, Shaista, married in 1996. He is Sunni and she is Shia, a mixed marriage that might have offended extremists. After 2011, when Mazar-i-Sharif was reeling once again from attacks and suicide bombings, he became increasingly worried that his family was not safe.

“I also thought terrorists might kidnap me to use my knowledge of microelectronics for remote control weapons,” he said. When he spotted strange men in a car watching his house, he knew it was time to leave. “That was a bad time, really a very bad time,” he said. “We lost a lot of money, our passports, our papers and our dignity.” he said of their journey to Greece.

The couple arrived in Athens early in 2017, and moved into an apartment paid for by the Catholic charity Caritas. Their four children — Said Azim, then aged 18; Said Rahim, 16; Said Hakim, 8; and Sadaf, their only daughter, 5 — started school. Mrs. Karimi, a trained physiotherapist, found work for an N.G.O., helping new mothers. They were safe, and the family was almost a model of immigration success.

Except that Mr. Karimi could not find work, and the asylum process was slow and torturous. To make matters worse, gearing up to talk to immigration officials triggered past trauma. “Every time I talked with the lawyer, I cried,” Mr. Karimi said.

At his wife’s prompting, he sought counseling, also through Caritas, which he said was very helpful. “Building Athena was also helping me,” he said. “It’s good for me to busy myself. It helped me avoid psychological problems.”

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An Afghan Refugee Built a Robot as a Message of Hope – The New York Times

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