Although her future is in limbo, Taibeh Abbasigraduated alongside her Norwegian friends this week. It’s a small victory for this group of young activists, who took a stand for Taibeh after hearing she was at risk of being deported to Afghanistan. Here, Mona, 19, who spearheaded the campaign #AbbasiStays, reveals why youth activism has never been so important…

If you want to make a difference, it’s possible. Don’t be afraid to express your opinion, surround yourself with supportive friends and never lose hope. 

My friend, Taibeh Abbasi, is at risk of being deported to Afghanistan. Six years ago, she moved to Norway with her family, made friends and settled into school life. Suddenly, she was at risk of having it all taken away. It was so cruel.

From left, Mona, Taibeh and her friends.
From left, Mona, Taibeh and her friends.

Along with 12 other students, we created the campaign, #abbasistays. Through protests, demonstrations and even a concert, we made our feelings heard. Our movement grew, and it wasn’t long until students from other schools joined, while organisations such as Amnesty International leant their support.

Taibeh and I have become such good friends and my main aim has been to support her, by being there for her. She’s struggled with this situation for many years and, as a team and as friends, we wanted to make sure her story reached the public and she was the one sharing it.

One of the hardest moments was when Taibeh received her deportation letter. My heart was in my mouth – I remember the silence and the feeling of fear. We thought a date had been set, but it hadn’t.

Although it wasn’t the result we’d hoped for, we’re happy we get to graduate together. If we hadn’t campaigned, the situation could have been a lot different.

Concert in support of Taibeh Abbasi, at Vår Frue church, Trondheim, Norway, 7 March 2018. Taibeh Abbasi, 18, is in danger of being deported from Norway to Afghanistan, where she has never lived.

It’s been an intense year for everyone, full of ups and downs. If we weren’t campaigning, we were doing our schoolwork or preparing for exams. Our graduation is an opportunity to celebrate our friendship, achievements and our campaign.

We’ve all grown this year, especially Taibeh. She used to be so shy, but now she stands up in front of thousands of people and shares her story on a global platform. It’s touched so many people. We’ve found inspiration in one another and it’s incredible to see how other students have started standing up for their beliefs. Taibeh’s story has really helped to connect the community of Trondheim.

We recently received Norway’s Memorial Award, founded in memory of the people who died in the terror attacks on 22 July 2011. I didn’t even realise we’d been nominated, so when I heard the news it was a shock. This isn’t just any award. It means so much to receive it. Our work has been seen and appreciated and it feels good to receive recognition for our work. Even if we don’t succeed with our goal, this award proves the importance of standing up, getting involved and being engaged. I hope it will encourage other people to take action and stand up for what they believe.

It’s so important to stand together. There’s power in numbers. When young people come together, we can achieve a lot. I don’t know what the future holds, but I really hope Taibeh stays in Norway, a place where she can lead a happy life and doesn’t have to feel afraid. As for myself, I want to continue to stand up for people and do all I can to make a difference. I refuse to stand for injustice.