Afghan man who fled from Taliban with family speaks of 'special' graduation day
A man from Afghanistan who fled the Taliban in Kabul has graduated with a masters.
Naimat Zafary, 37, graduated with a merit in governance, development and public policy from Sussex University yesterday and enjoyed it with hundreds of other students at the Brighton Centre.
Naimat was evacuated by British troops with his wife Saima and four children in August 2021, spending four months in a hotel in London before the Home Office arranged a permanent move to Hove just before Christmas.
The family received a warm welcome from neighbours and Naimat said “Sussex is like a home” after a year by the seaside.
He told The Argus: “I am very happy for this day. It is the day I have been dreaming of for the last six or seven years. I have put in a lot of time and effort in order to make it to here. This day is special for me.
“When I applied for a Chevening scholarship over those seven years, they ask you to choose two universities. I knew I would make it one day, Sussex is like a home. The support the university gave me is phenomenal. It is like something you get inside your home.
“I have been supported from lecturers, even to the person who took my graduation photograph. We have a great friendship.”
Naimat applied for the government-funded Chevening scholarship for four years before he was finally accepted by the British embassy in 2021.
The scholarship is for individuals who “show potential to inspire, inform and influence positive change”.
More than 50,000 people have graduated with the scholarship in total.
Speaking about the situation for his family, Naimat said: “My family and all Afghans have been through a difficult situation. We have lost our country, the system and everything we had.
“Thanks to the support of Sussex University we managed to do our studies, adopt a new community, we managed to digest the bad news coming from Afghanistan and the trauma we all faced.
“My daughters have started school, my eldest is starting secondary school. My son is starting nursery this year.
"We all have got used to Sussex, it is a new home. My wife started learning English at the library. It is our new home.
“The cold is not as much of a shock here as Kabul. Right now it is -9C over there. I’m less used to the rain over here.”
Naimat is looking to start a PhD at Sussex University in the near future which will focus on his home country.
He said: “My own life experience was seeing the system collapse and fail. My PhD topic is about the hurt and poverty in Afghanistan.
“In the last 20 years, a huge amount of money went into the country but so many people still live in poverty. I want to look at what we need to learn, I don’t want to criticise. I want to learn the mistakes we made in those 20 years so we can improve in the future.”