Guest blog from Paris Refugee Ground Support
Three nights ago Alex had his birthday in a secret, tucked-away corner of a Parisian city park.
He is young in his round face. Has an easy sticky-out-toothy smile that reaches his soft eyes. He has one of those silly annoying hairstyles that is half flicky emo fringe and half super stylish. He's kinda goofy, charming and desperately talkative. His English is perfect but with unmistakable Afghan mannerisms.
His name is not Alex, but it does begin with an A. But I need you to see this young man as real as we see him and not in the hidden identity of an A.
We met him last year but he's been on the streets in Paris since 2016.
Its 3.30am and he is still sweet and chatty. Extremely sad, yet still smiley. He asks where we were yesterday (two nights’ ago) because he spent his birthday alone, away from his family and he had had a bad time. He pulls up his sleeves and exposes both his forearms, sore and bloody.
On his birthday Alex, this young man that looks like a boy, had sat in that corner with a knife slashing hundreds of cuts into his arms. First diagonally one way, then diagonally the other way. Pain relieving pain.
We talk. We hold hands. Thank you sister thank you. He talks. His heart is his mother. Better to die in Europe than Afghanistan. Thank you sister, thank you. His dead brother. Better to die here in Europe, my family cannot see, cannot worry. Thank you sister, thank you.
I say I do not have a first aid box with me tonight I will be back tomorrow (tonight) to clean and bandage his arms. Thank you sister, thank you.
Tonight we go to his corner and tonight he is gone. Nothing left. Nothing except this mark on the wall.
ALEX WAS HERE.