👉 Do you remember any particularly joyful moments of your childhood?
My name is Arman Rahimi, I was born in Afghanistan in 1998.
There was always war in my country. Even when I was born. My father worked as a policeman and was often on duty in other cities and not present.
Our life was simple but thanks to my mother who kept a cow, goats, chickens, and sheep, we never had to suffer from hunger like many other children my age.
Our father loved us children very much. And whenever he came home, he always had a gift for each child. That was always a very special celebration for everyone.
But once, when he came back from a long mission, he brought me a bicycle. A black bicycle. Secretly, I had always wanted a bike. But, because bicycles were so expensive, I never expressed this wish. And then one day he came back from his morning assignment and called me out to him. It was summer and the sun was shining. My father was standing there with the new bicycle. It shone in the sun and my father laughed at my astonished, disbelieving face. I had never expected that my wish could come true.
Right after lunch, he took me out and practiced riding the bike with me. He held me by the back of the saddle and walked along with me. We practiced for quite a while and then suddenly he let go of my saddle. When I noticed this, I started to lurch with my bike. He called out to me: Don’t worry Arman, you can do it and I was quite proud of my bike and my first independent attempts at riding.
Our father, when he was at home, was always strongly present and very loving. He always played with us and so I could really learn a lot from my father.
My big sister was a little sad, she would have liked to have a bike too. I let her ride the bike too. My father also practiced with her. So at least she could learn how to ride a bike.
I am still very grateful to my parents that they always tried very hard to make us happy, despite the difficult times.
👉 As an adult, how do you manage to experience joy and how do you show it?
Due to the ongoing conflicts and attacks in my country, I had to leave Afghanistan when I was 11 years old. I am a Hazara, and our ethnic group was, and still is, persecuted by the Taliban. As I am their oldest son, my family decided to send me away so that at least I would be safe.
I went to Iran and worked in a quarry for four years. I was completely on my own there. I had to take care of myself all by myself. But I had a dream: I wanted to go to Europe. This dream made me survive all that.
When I arrived in Europe, Austria, I was allowed to attend school. That made me really happy because in Iran, I was not allowed to do that, and I always dreamed about it.
I experienced the time of the asylum procedure with highs and depths. Hope was replaced by despair. Since I left my country, I have learnt to never give up. I was also protected by my Austrian mother who was and is a great support to me. She also lives by the principle of always looking at the positive side of a story. That is how I became an optimist.
I also believe that God is always by my side. That gives me strength.
In my childhood and youth, I learned that you could do anything. Even if it is sometimes tedius. Only in this way can you become happy and then share this happiness with the people who are close to you. I am always happy that this is possible and consider it a gift of life.
👉 What is your advice for people who have lost the gift of joy, of being able to be joyful?
Try to find something positive in every situation, even if it is difficult. Sometimes the road is long and there seems to be no end in sight. Trust in God and above all trust in yourself and don’t be desperate. Life is full of surprises. Surely there are also negative ones. But you should not orientate yourself on that. Just be ready for the positive!