By CATRIONA STEWART
HE left his family behind in a war ravaged country and arrived in Glasgow with nothing.
Little more than a child when he came here, Abdul Bostani now has a university degree and a family of his own.
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The 35-year-old is working to give back to the city and country that saved his life - although he fears for his Afghan family every day.
Abdul had never heard of Scotland when he was placed here by the Home Office from Dover, having arrived in England after a long journey on his own.
He said: “When I got here I came to understand Scotland was a country.
“We heard people saying, ‘You are going far away. It’s too cold and it rains all the time.’ But although it is cold, I found the people warm.
“All the people around me were very supportive and I could not have achieved anything without that support.”
Abdul was just about to turn 18 when he left behind his mother, sister and brother in 2001 as war raged.
He was from a big family and had plans to go on to university - but he feared for his life.
He said: “The country was burning. I am from Kunduz Province in Northern Afghanistan, right on the front line between the Taliban insurgents and government troops.
“I never spoke any English, not a word at all.
“I had great opportunity here and I wanted to make the most of it. Local people can sometimes take this for granted, you don’t see the opportunities you have.
“I grabbed the opportunity I was given, I educated myself and I made a life here.”
Abdul, now a dad to three girls and two boys, struggled on his own in the Red Road flats and saw how hard it was for other refugees to assimilate.
As a way of alleviating the loneliness and isolation of Afghan refugees, Abdul set up Glasgow Afghan United (GAU) football team.
At first it was a chance for Afghan boys to have a kick about but the scheme soon grew to include families and the chance to socialise.
Abdul, who successfully claimed asylum, said there were refugees who took sleeping tablets but their stress and anxiety was so helped by being part of the group that they stopped needing medication.
Now GAU, which operates across Scotland, organises events such as Burns Suppers and St Andrew’s Day celebrations.
Abdul, a translator, said it is vital for Afghans arriving in Scotland to learn about the country’s customs and cultures as well as respecting their own cultural heritage.
He said: “We are all Scottish, we live in Scotland. We are part of this society and we must know who Robert Burns is and who St Andrew is.”
Despite his successes, his family is always front of his thoughts.
He said: “The city was captured by the Taliban. My family were on the front line. They spoke to me on the phone and in the background I heard gunfire, missiles, firing, shelling.
“I was so worried, I couldn’t sleep. I want my family here."
When Theresa May was Foreign Secretary, Abdul wrote to her to ask advice about bringing his family to Glasgow.
He believes to do so would be almost impossible.
He said: “For all of us who left our families behind, you can’t have piece of mind if your family is not safe.
“You don’t know what’s going to happen to them and you think about them all the time, no matter how brave you are.
“It causes an instability in the mind.”
Despite Brexit and the deepening refugee crisis, Abdul says Scotland and Glasgow are still welcoming to refugees.
He said he attended an event at the Scottish Parliament for refugees and, of 400 guests, only two spoke out against Scotland welcoming refugees.
He added: “In any society you will see different people. You see it is very small numbers, the majority of people are supportive of asylum seekers.
“The people who are critical of asylum seekers, I don’t blame them. It is only because they don’t understand enough.
“People are not coming here to steal jobs. They have no idea about the Scottish benefits system. They are coming here to save their life.”
Now Abdul is helping to host a celebration in Possilpark on Tuesday to mark Afghan New Year, or Nowruz.
Starting at 6.30pm in Saracen House, there will be food and music as well as speakers from the Scottish Refugee Council and UNHCR.