Abdul Karim Albrem, representing the voiceless

Abdul Karim Albrem is from Aleppo, Syria. In 2015, the war forced him to flee and leave for a better future at a safe place. He is now a counsellor and youth advocate in Hamburg, Germany, focused on helping others in similar situations.

Selfie by Abdul Karim on his journey from Syria to Germany.

On the road to Europe, Abdul Karim felt responsible for the families and children that accompanied him. ‘I spoke English... They were relying on me. I couldn’t give up. We walked long distances with no stopping. But even during this awful journey, there were people all along the way coming with food, driving us, helping us. The situation would have been way worse if we hadn’t had so much support from host communities.’

Mother tongue

When Abdul Karim arrived in Germany, he needed psychosocial support for his mental condition, physical tensions and terrible nightmares. At the time, he could not find anyone to provide him with this support in his mother tongue. ‘But when I started a psychosocial counselling training, I had a self-experience session for three months, and that was the turning point in my life that helped me to succeed and be where I am today. And this motivated me to help others who experienced very difficult circumstances and represent those who are voiceless on different levels.’

Youth Advisory Board

By decision of the German Ministry of Health, Abdul Karim now has a job as Chair of the National Youth Advisory Board of Refugees for Addiction and Trauma Issues in Germany. This Board is a platform providing refugees with the opportunity to advise on how to improve mental health programs. Abdul Karim is also a member of UNHCR’s Global Youth Advisory Council. He represents refugees in host countries, IDPs in areas of conflict and asylum seekers who are detained in centres in some countries.

Abdul Karim meets Minister Kaag at the MHPSS conference in Amsterdam. Still from the video embedded below.

Not only victims

‘And now my dream is to find a scholarship to read law, because I want to fight someday for this important issue at various levels and achieve lots of things. I want to establish an organization that focuses on MHPSS, and train young people from various communities in order to support their communities. We must show the world that we are not only victims but also leaders and supporters who also have expertise and solutions.’

Watch Abdul Karim attending the MHPSS conference in Amsterdam on 7 and 8 October.