One of 163,000 refugees to arrive in Sweden last year, Ahmed, 12, fled from Syria four months ago with his family. Already adjusted to life in the Nordic country, he today attends school in Malmö and his dreams are big: he wants to meet King Carl XVI Gustaf to talk about his journey and his time in Sweden so far.
Pooja Sharafi, 29, a school counsellor at his school, Sofielundskolan in southern Sweden, revealed to The Local on Thursday how he helped Ahmed write a letter to the Royal Palace, after the boy reached out to him.
"I had told the pupils they could come and talk to me if they had something on their mind. Ahmed told me a little bit about his journey from Syria and that he really wanted to contact the king," he said.
Sharafi, who was very touched by the story, did not have to be asked twice. Ahmed wrote the letter in Arabic, his native language, then Sharafi asked a colleague to translate the letter into Swedish.
"I cried when I read it the first time," he said.
In the letter, Ahmed described his life in Syria, his journey to Sweden and how his life changed when he got to Sweden.
It starts: "Hi King Gustav! My name is Ahmed and I am 12 years old. I have a mum, a dad and a brother. We have always lived in a beautiful house filled with joy in Aleppo, Syria."
The letter sent to the king. Photo: Pooja Sharafi.
"My parents had cars and we lived in happiness until the war started with the sound of missiles, shots and fear."
"I could no longer go to school because my teacher was killed by a gunshot right in front of our eyes, me, my brother and our teacher's children. Our friends were there too. I can’t forget these seconds. They were my worst moments," the letter, which was first written about by Swedish tabloid Expressen, read.
He went on to describe how his father decided the family had to escape, how they had to go on a rubber boat to Turkey, how terrified Ahmed was and how the police in Turkey took them to a worse place than the boat with too many people and terrible smell, until the police released the family.
"We got to Sweden. I want to meet the Swedish King to tell him my story. I heard he is a noble king. I have carried a bag of new clothes to wear when I meet this king," Ahmed wrote to the Royal Palace.
"I wish to meet you when I wear my new clothes, which I have carried all the way to Sweden to see you," he ends his letter.
Ahmed has not yet received a reply to his note, which was sent on Tuesday. In the meantime, Sharafi has started a Facebook page in the hope that people will share the story to increase the chances to get the Swedish royal to notice the letter and Ahmed.
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According to Sharafi, Ahmed is pleased that people want to share his story.
"Ahmed thinks it’s really good thing that this has got a lot of attention. He will be a good role model for everyone who want to tell these kinds of stories," he said.
The Local has contacted the Royal Palace for a comment.
Article by Emma Lidman