Sara Manzari was a successful woman in Iran. She was awarded a higher school leaving certificate in Maths and Physics and studied Media Design. She worked as a graphic designer and went on business trips to Europe. And she worked as a journalist: among other things, she met the last Iranian president before the Islamic revolution of 1979 and wrote about her discussion with him. But this is forbidden in Iran today – and dangerous. “The government thought I work with the BBC, Voice of America, the US or the UK. I made a mistake that destroyed my life”, she says.
Sara Manzari was held in prison, was not allowed to work, lost her insurance, her passport was taken away and she was forbidden to leave Teheran. “My family and friends were afraid of having anything to do with me”, she recounts. “But I still believe that all people are free and that free speech counts.”
Finally, a man offered to help here and organised her escape via Istanbul. At the airport someone pressed a European passport into her hand with which she flew to Hamburg, where a third man took the passport away from her and disappeared. Sara Manzari went to the police and submitted an application for asylum. This was in November 2012.
Support for refugees
“The first year in Germany was very difficult for me”, she recounts. She has relocated several times since her arrival. Today she lives with her young daughter in her own flat near Karlsruhe. It was two years before Sara Manzari's application for asylum was finally approved. “I fought the whole time”, she says.
Since 2013 she works as a volunteer for a human rights organisation, and since 2015 for the District Office at Karlsruhe. She visits refugees in a hostel twice a week. “I advise expectant mothers, help to look for a kindergarten, with visits to the doctor or registration with the Jobcenter”, she says.
Wanted: a place in a company
Her daughter is being looked after so that Sara Manzari can finally attend a “proper” German course. In addition, she set up contacts with the Baden-Württemberg Dual University (DHBW) through “Café Asyl” in Karlsruhe, where she meets other refugees and volunteers every Thursday. She has decided to start a dual study course on Computer Science.
She worked as an intern at several companies and sat a competence test at the university. She says that she had to look at a picture of a bridge or a building, for example, and make a model of it. She could use wood, yarn, glue and even spaghetti for the model.
She has already been admitted to the university and an additional intensive German course should bring her to language level B2/C1. All she needs now is a company where she can undertake the practical phases. The University is supporting her in doing this. If she can't find one this year, she still intends to take courses at the DHBW. “But I don't want to lose another year”, she says. “Because of my daugher’s future in the first place.”