Javed Nasiri is a women’s rights activist and global entrepreneur. His passions include mentoring young leaders in an effort to help drive their businesses forward. He hopes to develop infrastructures to help orphans with support, whilst empowering them with opportunities and resources.
My name is Javed Nasiri, and I was born in an Afghan refugee family from Kabul in Peshawar, Pakistan. We are three brothers and two sisters. My father died in the Afghan-Russian war when I was 16 months old. He was a Mujahideen. We were raised by our beloved mother.
It was really difficult to grow up as a refugee, in addition to being fatherless. Among all of my siblings, I am the only one who received a formal education and graduated with degrees. I keenly remember Parents Day, which was celebrated in my elementary school. I remained standing alone and lost. It was a cruel holiday.
At the age of 7, my mother contacted a charitable NGO to support and feed us. We were selected to receive aid. My mother and I would visit the office early mornings, which was approximately 40 miles away from our home. One incident really shook the earth beneath my feet, when I saw my mother silently weeping in a corner, eating old rock solid bread with water. Although I was just a child, that scene shattered me. There was another time, when my mother brought us 5 mangoes and distributed one per each child. There was no mango for my mother. I asked her to share with me but she said, “I’m forbidden to eat mangoes by the doctor.”
She lied just so that we could eat as much as we could.
I come from a male dominated society, where the chances of survival for a lone widow and her children is slim to none. I experienced racism and discrimination, as well as seeing little to no support that would help me escape from poverty, oppression, and injustice. I was rejected to enroll in higher education because of my refugee status. I had no nationality, no rights. I wasn’t allowed to exist, nor participate in achieving my dreams and goals. I remember bitterly weeping, overwhelmed with obstacles, denials, and rejection.
While working odd hours at random tea shops, I rigorously applied for college abroad. I was selected for a scholarship, and graduated with honors, with a Bachelor’s degree in Business Enterprise. I am now a well grown, educated man with a positive future ahead. I work in the global steel industry trade, and have traveled the world. I am currently supporting my mother, as she was diagnosed with breast cancer. After 3 surgeries and radiation treatment, she is now in recovery.
I believe we are connected globally. I was able to have a second chance at life in a country that was far away from my birthplace. I can only imagine how many children are out there like me, who are deprived of choice and opportunity from every corner. I share my story to deliver hope and bring to light that injustices in my society, such as gender disparity, discrimination, and racism, must be challenged. I am a fierce advocate for women, having seen my own mother suffer. To this day, I detest violence. I’ve seen it too much in my community, amongst leadership, and the suffering it has caused to just normal, everyday citizens.