'I dream about setting up a clinic in Afghanistan' - Refugee Council
April 11, 2014

‘I dream about setting up a clinic in Afghanistan’

Helal is a refugee doctor from Afghanistan. He is currently trying to re-qualify in the UK with help from our Refugee Health Professionals programme but it isn’t easy. This is his story.

In Afghanistan, before I became a doctor, I used to work for an international charity and I also worked for the British army as an interpreter in my home town. My work with the army put my family and I at risk, so I decided it was safer to go to Turkey to complete my medical qualifications.

Once I became a doctor I returned to Afghanistan to work. I was hoping to one day set up a community clinic with a group of my friends to treat people who couldn’t afford to go to private hospitals.

Unfortunately, I soon realised that because of my previous work with the armed forces, I was still a target for those who saw me as helping the ‘infidels’. My life was at risk so I fled to the UK.

Since arriving in the UK I have been trying to re-qualify as a doctor but it’s tough. I have to pass an extremely challenging English exam, IELTS, before I can do my medical exams. It costs £145 every time I take it.

Since coming to the UK I’ve worked as a healthcare assistant and a phlebotomist; jobs you don’t really need any qualifications to do. It’s very difficult to find a job, so I know I was lucky to get those roles but I’m now completely focusing on my studies.

My mother and sister are currently in a refugee camp in Pakistan and I’m very worried about them. The conditions there are not good. Hopefully when I re-qualify as a doctor, I will be earning enough money to bring them to safety in the UK.

I still dream about setting up that clinic in Afghanistan. I don’t know what the future holds, but I hope to one day make that dream a reality.