Stories of Change

Lamia Topic and Kan

Kan’s Determination

Story by Lamia Topic

“He is a little shaken. Disturbed. Scared. He cried a little too,” the shift leader at the Lipa reception center described the emotions of the young boy standing before us. Kan, a slender and tall boy with light green eyes and a sorrowful gaze, introduced himself as we approached him. A CWS *legal guardian, along with her colleague, extended a warm welcome, while Kan, aged sixteen from Afghanistan, shared his name and background.

Kan’s story, like the countless others shared with the CWS mobile team every day, carried a familiar tone. Behind each story, however, lay a distinct face, a unique perspective and personal pain. Not all these stories were filled with sorrow; many had happy endings, just like Kan’s, but they are all equally significant. Every person’s story matters and every individual deserves to be heard and remembered by someone. These stories hold a special place in the hearts of the guardians, for they know that by truly listening to a child’s voice, they can understand how to offer help — not only to those who could express their needs but also to those who struggle to find the right words.

Despite his fear of the unknown and the challenging circumstances he faced, Kan and his light green eyes conveyed his trust in the guardians who reached out to him. Bosnia was a new place for him, and his journey had been tumultuous. After numerous failed attempts to cross the European Union border, fate led him to Bosnia, where he joined a group of countrymen on their way to Lipa. Since Lipa is primarily a facility for single adult men, the staff promptly alerted the CWS mobile team. Ensuring Kan’s safe transport to Borici, a reception center for families and unaccompanied children, is the responsibility of CWS guardians. During the journey, Kan seized the opportunity to share his story with the team.

After the fall of Afghanistan, Kan was forced to leave his homeland. While some of his family remained behind, others, including Kan, sought refuge in Sarajevo. Sadly, they were separated during their attempt to cross the border. What troubled Kan the most was not having a mobile phone, which prevented him from staying in touch with the group and his family in Afghanistan. His time in Bosnia and Herzegovina was short since his ultimate goal was to reach Germany, where two of his close friends had already settled.

“It’s not easy. Germany is a beautiful country, but the language is incredibly difficult. I will learn it. I’ve managed to learn English as well, not fluently, but enough to talk to people. I will go to school and find work. But I miss my family. You see, I’m the eldest brother,” Kan shared with a mixture of determination and longing. He also had questions about the accommodation and the city he found himself in, but what he truly wanted to know was whether there were other Afghan residents in Borici, as he had observed a significant Afghan community in Sarajevo. The guardians’ reassurance that Borici housed an Afghan community, particularly peers his age, illuminated Kan’s eyes, igniting a spark of warmth and hope.

Kan continued to recount his journey, the hardships he encountered, and the heart-wrenching moments of separation from his loved ones during the perilous border crossing. Encouraged by the guardians, he felt safe to express his emotions and fears. Upon reaching Borici, the CWS guardians shared all the necessary data and information with the Borici-based guardians, ensuring that Kan’s stay would be as comfortable as possible, with all his needs attended to.

Placing his left hand over his heart, Kan said once again with a gentle smile, “Thank you, and good luck. I hope we will meet again.”

Lamia Topic is a CWS Legal Guardian in Bosnia and Herzegovina. To learn more about our work in Eastern Europe, click here.

*Legal Guardians serve to represent and protect unaccompanied minors crossing through Bosnia and Herzegovina. CWS’s mobile team acts as frontline actors, conducting rapid risk assessments, offering immediate support, and connecting unaccompanied minors with vital child protection services and systems. You can learn more about our programs in Eastern Europe by clicking here