Hear our stories
The subject of migration dominates political and media debates, yet we rarely hear the voices of the people at the sharp end – the migrants and refugees themselves. A new book produced by TogetherInTheUK – a social enterprise that provides an unbiased communications platform for migrants and refugees to safely share their stories, while offering reliable advice and insights in life in the UK – aims to put that right. Featuring a foreword by Lord Alf Dubs, Hear Our Stories: An Anthology of Writings on Migration is a powerful collection of poetry and prose about hope, despair, gratitude, sadness and relief by people who have journeyed to the UK in search of a better life. The following are edited extracts from the book.
‘My Eritrea’, by Daniel Habte
My Eritrea, it is a beautiful, blessed yet brutal land.
You can work hard to make a success of your life,
but you have no control to decide where you stand!
The fear of a life held captive by hard, cruel leaders,
living in the dirt, rubbed deep in my hurt of missing my
family and friends.
Do I stay and carry out the military demand?
At the age of 14 and the idea of leaving all this for
the unknown actually seemed like the better plan.
For girls, it’s bad, made to marry young to an old man.
Forced out of education into life detention. This is not
the life, Dan, this is not the life.
I could see the border from where I lived, it looked so
Seeing countless failed escape attempts, ‘I could do it!’
– was my gut feeling.
With nothing but the clothes I was wearing,
no family to express my leaving, but not for lack of
just because they couldn’t bear it, to know that I was absent…
Arrived in Libya, after a journey that only my God could
save me from,
was held for a month, in a hall amongst 2,000 other
One loo, little food, no shower, a drip of water. Barely
enough to live.
Bugs crawling in our dirt and over our bodies, what I’d
give to be in a safe place.
This was what I was striving for, this was the dream…
I was snuck onto a lorry with eight other strangers, this
was our chance to escape.
We had to endure another journey; this time trapped
between two large crates.
We were fighting for our survival, no air to barely
banging furiously on the walls, for our helpless bodies
The lorry had boarded a ship to the UK, we were almost
The county foster services took over because I was still
considered a child.
Despite this journey making me a man, I am reminded
that I am still a child.
When I first met my English foster parents, I could not
Because the people I had met along the way had made
me question people.
It took me time to relax in my new home.
But I quickly learnt that my new family did care for me,
they treated me like a son.
Life is challenging,
knowing that I still have family in Eritrea
and that I haven’t seen my mum in a long time.
But I praise God for getting me through this journey
He was always watching over me.
Always guiding my path.
‘The Channel’, by Kisa
I can’t swim
but still, we swim away,
through choppy waters, colder than I’ve known,
far away from the ivory and oil,
from the machetes and men of blood.
I was born dusty as the floor beneath my mother’s bed.
Many men had her there.
And I hated them.
But she taught me to look beyond our walls,
beyond the cutting hours, and to reach through the dark
into the light, to other lands.
So my grip is tight
and my sight is set on fat green fields,
on warm people and cities of gold and glass.
I swim forwards, arm over tired arm,
to dream to arrive,
but the water is cold.
Hear Our Stories: An Anthology of Writings on Migration, edited by Teresa Norman, Sinéad Mangan-Mc Hale and Consuelo Rivera-Fuentes and published by Victorina Press, is out today.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect those of the Runnymede Trust.
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