I am an Asylum seeker.
Now, it may be that one of the first things that came to your mind when you read that was, “not another one!” or “another job thief!”. However, what if I told you that we can’t work? That threw a wrench into your mind’s gears, didn’t it?
Perhaps you are thinking, “well, then they must be here to steal our benefits!” Well, we don’t really receive government issued benefits either! So, who are we? And, why exactly are we here?
Before I tell you my story, put yourself in my shoes for a second. Imagine the home you live in, the heating and lights you use every day, the Wi-Fi that you can’t live without. Now, imagine that you wake up in the cold and darkness and the idea that you’ve gone your whole life without the internet.
Now, picture the cupboards in your kitchen, the food in your fridge and the toiletries in your bathroom that are always at your disposal. Again, picture yourself waking up hungry with nothing in your cupboards, nothing in your fridge. If you’re a woman, imagine getting your period and walking into the bathroom to realise that there are no pads and that you can’t afford to get any either. Realise that you must miss school again this month because you don’t have pads.
Picture the walk to school that you take every morning, stopping to buy some sweets before class, the thought of you being kidnapped and raped never crossing your mind. Picture this walk again, now imagine the fear sinking in every morning knowing that it could be your last.
My mother risked her life bringing my brother and I somewhere that we could safely call home, build friendships and community in so that one day we could give our children the safety and future we almost died trying to find.
I still haven’t answered your questions! So, who are we?
We are people, like you, who want to find a safe place to live, build a future and grow. Why are we here? Well, like many of us, we don’t choose where we go. We find a safe place to go, and we try our best. Now as for the job and home stealing, we are legally not entitled to employment and/or benefits. What we are entitled to is roughly £5 a day which is allocated by the UN. Take it from an asylum seeker, if we could work, we would! I can’t even have a bank account, get my driver’s licence and up until recently I couldn’t go to university.
I’m 23 years old! I want to leave my mark on the world too! I want to experience working at a fast-food franchise that pays me far too little for far too much of a workload! I want to experience the independence that a grimy student apartment with mould growing the corner has to offer! But I can’t, asylum seekers don’t have the privilege to have human experiences.
I have something to confess. I lied to you when I said that asylum seekers were just like you. Because we aren’t like you, but we want to be.