I would like people to know that I am a human being. Maybe the difference is my colour, and my very soft voice, and my big structure, but I breathe the same air you breathe.
I come from Ivory Coast. I was a teacher back home. I got involved in the student union and activities – that is how everything changed. I had to leave.
You lose so much and people don’t see it. If something happens to your relatives at home, you can’t go back. And people think that you have no education, no background.
God is helping me. Without him, I would not be able to do it.
I came with nothing, I couldn’t even bring photos of my children.
I literally ran from Somalia. There’s fighting everywhere. I don’t know where my husband and my mother are, I haven’t heard any news of them for two and a half years.
Belfast is a good place, it is safe. It was very hard applying for asylum, but I was granted refugee status. Now I learn English, I shop, and I cook. I would like to be a nurse.
I was so happy when my children came here. I live in a hostel, but I still have stress about finding a home for my family.
At times I feel negative, but more positive than negative.
I still have a life I believe, if I am able to work.
I’m from Kenya. I had to flee for my life. I studied business administration, but here I am volunteering at NICRAS.*
I’m quite ashamed to associate myself as an asylum seeker. In most places they see that you are less of a human. But the longer I am here, the more I see that people are welcoming.
I am funny… I am kind… I am hardworking. I am not alone regardless of what I have been going through. God will not abandon me.
* NICRAS is the Northern Ireland Community of Refugees and Asylum Seekers. As volunteers, Justin, Naomi and a small team provide advice, food parcels, and outreach education to schools, churches and the community on asylum and refugee issues. Justin became chair of NICRAS in 2010. He has won three prestigious awards for his work supporting others.
Write to your local paper
Here are some suggestions for what to include in your letter:
- Explain why you believe refugees deserve to be welcomed.
- We know that faith groups are at the heart of the response locally. Tell a positive story about the contribution that refugees have made in your community, or a group that is making refugees welcome.
- Highlight the local angle. If relevant, praise any compassionate coverage relating to refugees in the newspaper you are writing to.
- Explain that you believe that the government can and must do more. Call on the UK government to host at least double the number of refugees that the government has currently pledged to support.
- Try to keep it short and to the point!