The Convoy of Hope team met Mustafa in the Harmanli refugee camp in Bulgaria in 2016. Mustafa fled his homeland in the Middle East because he was from a minority tribe who suffered from intense persecution. Mustafa was studying to become a doctor when he began to witness acts of genocide against people like him. With no other option, he chose to undertake the arduous route to Europe.
Mustafa had heard there were people who could help him on his journey and decided to contact them. These people assured him that he would reach Germany and be reunited with his wife in four days. After paying a large fee, Mustafa waited for their direction.
His first step was to ride in the trunk of a small vehicle along with nine other adults, hidden and crammed against each other. In the heat of the summer, and without being able to eat or drink for four days, Mustafa drew his strength from the thought of seeing his wife again.
Once the car reached the border, Mustafa was kidnapped by his own traffickers. They demanded an extra sum of money from his family back home before he could proceed in his journey. He was forced to spend seven days with 40 other men in a small room with no windows or light, and one toilet. They weren’t given food or water during their time there and were forced to drink from the toilet to stay hydrated. Finally, his family paid the additional money, and Mustafa was set free.
Despite these incredible hardships, Mustafa was set on reaching Germany. He decided to continue his route through what he refers to as “the jungle” — actually known as the forests of Eastern Europe. Weak, starving, and cold, Mustafa was eventually caught and turned in to the police. After being beaten and held for two days, he was released.
Mustafa arrived at the refugee camp in Harmali, Bulgaria, and found the Oasis Center, where Convoy of Hope and its partners distribute food to refugees. For the first time in his personal nightmare, someone reached out in kindness. Mustafa now works alongside Convoy and its partners to distribute food and clothing to the rest of the refugees in the camp. He shared with Convoy that he feels his hope has been restored.
*This story was originally reported in 2016. Three years later, with the support of Convoy’s partners in Bulgaria, Mustafa made it to Germany and was reunited with his wife. He has received asylum there. Some details, including his name, have been changed or generalized to protect his privacy.