The Current

A 12-year-old refugee's harrowing escape from Afghanistan

Gulwali Passerlay was just 12 years old when his mother paid human traffickers to get him out of Afghanistan. It was expected to be a difficult trip, but it became a year-long odyssey of suffering, abuse, deprivation and only occasional kindness. He shares his story.
Gulwali Passarlay, age 8, working for a tailor in Afghanistan. (The Lightless Sky/Harper Collins Canada)
Listen22:59
Gulwali Passarlay, as an apprentice tailor, 10, with his younger brother Nasir. He made the clothes he is wearing in this photo. (Lightless Sky/Harper Collins Canada)

In 2006, when Gulwali Passarlay was 12-years-old, he left Afghanistan on a perilous journey, which included being taken by smugglers to that same Greek island. 

My mother saved my life by sending me away, but she also lost me.- Gulwali Passarlay

Now Gulwali Passarlay is telling his story in a memoir, called "The Lightless Sky: A Twelve-Year-Old Refugee's Harrowing Escape from Afghanistan and His Extraordinary Journey Across Half the World."

Gulwali Passarlay joined Anna Maria from Manchester, England.

Gulwali Passarlay (center) with his brother Noor (left), uncle and cousin, 2002. (Lightless Sky/Harper Collins Canada)

This segment was produced by The Current's Howard Goldenthal.

now