I’m 29, I was born in Assab, Eritrea on the shores of the Red Sea. My mum was a housewifeand my dad was an accountant. We had a comfortable life. I was their only child – my mum suffered in some way when she gave birth to me and couldn’t have any more children – no one ever told me the details and she died from her medical problems when I was quite young.
When I was 12, dad and I moved to Sudan because of the war between Eritrea and Ethiopia. We lived in Dueim and had a small supermarket – just me and dad. It was ok – not as nice as home, but ok. I didn’t get an education; my dad was frightened to let me go to school – soldiers would abduct the young people and take them back for military training. For a long time I didn’t work but then I got a job for a lady as a housemaid and looking after her children. She had a restaurant in her front room for 5 or 6 people and I’d help with the cooking.
When I was 25, my dad got very sick – I don’t know what was wrong but he had a catheter and I couldn’t care for him – he had sisters at home who could look after him, so he went back.
I was 26 when I left Sudan – life there was so very hard.
My uncle paid for a broker – I don’t know how much. There was 6 of us and we hid in the agent’s house for 4 months waiting for him to organise the trip. The agents are frightened of getting caught – they’d be imprisoned and probably have all their money taken off them. I was the only girl, but the boys were ok. Eventually we got a plane to France with fake passports. The agent had some friends who took us from the airport to a refugee jungle – not Calais. It was Winter, I had never experienced such cold and snow – it was awful. Some of the French people were very kind and brought us food and clothes and shoes – once a week we got a shower in a church. I was there 20 days – every night we would go to the lorry park and try to stowaway in the lorries. People would help us to climb in while the driver was asleep in his cab. It was really frightening – the drivers would wake up and chase us away. Twice I succeeded but was thrown out when I was discovered when the lorry was X-rayed. One night we got in and got across the Channel – 4 boys and 2 girls.
I don’t know where I arrived in the UK but the Police found us in the lorry and we were put in a detention centre. I claimed asylum and was sent to NASS accommodation in Glasgow. I was with an Iranian Girl I’d been in detention with and she was nice and the accommodation was ok.
After 2 months, I got my refugee status, started to work as a packer at Amazon and got council accommodation. The second day in the new place, the neighbours wrote on my wall N*****S OUT. They would put vomit in my doorway – spit on my door – break my windows – try to kick my door in – throw rubbish around my entrance – put fire-works through my letter box – they burnt my name off my door. When I left the house, they would regularly throw urine on me from the flats above. When I saw the N*****S OUT graffiti I was terrified, I called my housing officer, but they advised me not to go to the Police – they were worried that my neighbours would hurt me even more and that the Police wouldn’t be able to protect me.
I lived like this for 2 years and my neighbours never let up. I would come home from work and gangs of youths would be sitting on the stairs, smoking weed and blocking my way – I was too scared to ask them to move and I’d just wait outside until they got bored and moved on. When I asked my housing officer to rehouse me, she gave me a diary to fill in – but I can’t write.
I’d got a new job at a chocolate factory and I was working 7 days a week, but when I do get home I can’t sleep because I’m so frightened. A friend from Church came to visit and they stole his car, drove it away and set light to it. 5 boys I knew got stabbed.
Every day I was getting nose bleeds and headaches because of the stress. My doctor gave me some medicine but she said I couldn’t take it long term – I don’t know what it was, but it did help me sleep for a bit.
I begged them in housing to give me somewhere safe to live, but they just said I’d got a Council House and that’s all they could do. One of them said I should go to the Police, but I was too afraid.
I’d had enough – I got on the train to Euston. I went to Islington Council who said I had to go back to Glasgow – I said no, it’s too dangerous. Within a day, I was in Shelter from the Storm. The volunteers and guests here have been very kind. I’ve been doing English classes and Cookie has helped me find a place of my own – It’s way out and I don’t know anyone there, but it’s got to be better than Glasgow!
My dad is a little better, but I miss him so much. Now I just want to get a job and in the future, I dream of becoming a Nurse.
Liya was too scared to share her picture or any of her home in Glasgow that might identify her