Guest Story

I am 26 years old, I am from Darfur in Sudan. I came to the UK 2021. I was looking for a safe place. In 2002 there was a war in my country. The Janjaweed came to my village and killed many people. Me and my family escaped and stayed in many different villages. Each new place we arrived at, the Janjaweed came again to kill the villagers. Finally, we came to Al Fashir, a big city in Darfur and we started a new life in Abu Shouk refugee camp, at least we all survived. We were four, Mum, Dad, my big sister and me. I did up to third grade in primary school so I can read and write in Arabic. My dad worked in a vegetable shop and my mum looked after the children, eight children in all eventually.

I was working as a water carrier with a donkey cart, the work was very hard. My cousin was a shepherd and he said I could come to work with him. My cousin worked for another man. At first, we thought this man was OK. The deal was that we worked, he didn’t pay us but he gave us sheep to sell. After eight or nine months my cousin had lots of sheep and he says to the man that he now wants to sell them.  But the man had lied to us, he said “you have nothing, you are my slaves.” They fought and he stabbed my cousin three times. I was really young and I didn’t know how to act, it was very scary the man killed my cousin, I was so frightened. I stayed to work for another week but he sent someone to watch me in case I escaped – maybe his son, I don’t know, so now I am his slave. After one month I was herding the sheep and I saw a car, I asked the diver to take me to the refugee camp where my family lived. I went to tell my uncle that his son had been murdered but they already knew, I don’t know how. I slept that one night but my uncle told me I needed to escape, the guy who killed my cousin would come after me. My uncle sent me to Libya. To this day I don’t know how I got to Libya, so many people in the Land Cruiser, people fell off into the desert, it was very frightening they changed cars so many times it took about a week. I guess my uncle paid lots of money for this. I arrived in Libya at a place called Marj there I also worked as a shepherd and I lived in a little room and the man fed me. After six months I asked for my wages, he put a gun at my head and said “you can go now or I can shoot you either way I’m not going to give you money”, of course I left. I went to the town centre where I met some other Sudanese guys and I got some work in a car wash. This guy I worked for was very good guy, he paid me I saved my money and I went to the capital. I was staying in a big block of flats and I worked with the Libyan men making aluminium doors and windows, this boss was also a good man. Some sort of gang or militia attacked us in the middle of the night, they had guns. They caught many of us and put them in jail. I managed to escape, I came back in the morning, there were seven of my flatmates left, we cooked and ate. I went to the supermarket to get some water, when I returned I could see the police or the militia taking my friends so I didn’t go back, I was the only one to escape – very lucky. I had been in Libya for three years, I wanted to leave – this life is too scary. I looked for someone to help me escape. The first time I was not lucky they put me in the jungle and a gang came to attack us. I managed to escape, but I lost all my money. I had to go back to work. After six months I’d saved enough for a second try. I went to the jungle and we got a dinghy to Europe. After three hours at sea the police came and took us back to Tripoli and put us in prison, 200 or more people in a tiny prison. It was hell you couldn’t even sit down. We smashed the windows and escaped – very bad day – we ran without shoes in the mountains, I got spikes in my feet but I was so frightened I didn’t feel anything. I went to work again and after two months I tried again. This third time I managed to get to Malta. The man who murdered my cousin came to my father and said your son is my slave, get him back for me or I will take another one of your sons. My father stood up to him and told him to go away.

I’m in Malta in an internment camp for six months until we were put into a refugee camp. There were so many people lots of fighting and police came all the time. I was always very afraid. One night when I was away, the police took a lot of people, they took my friend and put him to prison. After 45 days they took him to court they asked him admit he was a perpetrator of the disturbance and fighting – if he says yes, he could have his freedom, if he says no they will put him back in prison.  I was very afraid of the police  in Malta. I did the same job making windows in Malta, the Maltese people were nice, my real problem was that I was terrified of the police everywhere. So, I left for Belgium, my friend from the jungle was also in Belgium and we decided to try to come to UK. We managed to get on a lorry and got to UK where we made an asylum claim. It took two and half years but my claim was finally approved this October.  Life in UK is very safe. When we first arrived, the police were so kind, it was wonderful they took us to our hotel, it was very nice and I was very happy

When my claim was granted I had to leave home office accommodation almost immediately. This was a nightmare for me I had no idea where to go. I slept on the streets until my friend told me about the shelter and I got a referral to SFTS. I thought my life ladder was going to the top but after I received my residency I was made homeless again and the ladder went down. But I have determination and persistence and I will succeed. Now I’m at the shelter everyone is friendly and kind, I love the place so much because it is clean and warm and comfortable and they have really delicious food. They have a teacher who is teaching me English. I hope to get permanent housing soon so I can work and help my parents. At the moment housing is taken up all my thoughts, it has affected my mental health. I have become distracted and can’t concentrate as I used to.

The shelter is lovely but I need to start the next chapter of my life I want to train and work, maybe in construction, and help my parents. I also need a moment or two to take some proper rest and then move on with my next with the next phase of my life.