Home Youth activism International Migrants Day: the Interior Ministry put my life on hold

International Migrants Day: the Interior Ministry put my life on hold

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I interviewed Idris *, a young disabled man from West Africa, who is an asylum seeker in the UK, and he said to me: considers himself a slave to society. I have to constantly hide that I am an asylum seeker when I am in a certain setting. I have been unable to fulfill my dreams of being a future footballer as there is a high level of uncertainty with my asylum status here in the UK.

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Idris is one of many young asylum seekers whose goals and aspirations to contribute to society have been shattered by arbitrary delays and rejections of the asylum process.

Dealing with my unresolved asylum status has had a severe effect on my well-being as I struggle with depression. I remember swimming in tears and sadness when I was taken out of the graduate program, and I have encountered this sensation in every asylum seeker I have encountered.

Idris added that “asylum seekers just want to live their best life and show their skills in the UK, without taking anything away”and also pointed out that ill-informed negative media coverage can leave migrants feeling hurt, demoralized and struggling to find a sense of belonging.

I want people to understand that young people like Idris don’t risk their lives or leave friends and family behind unless there is a compelling reason to.

Any rational individual in this situation would try to run away from unlivable circumstances and start a new life elsewhere. Idris was persecuted in his home country because of his disability: “I was sometimes called an ‘evil child’. My legs have razor blade cuts, and I remember asking my mom what those black marks were. She refused to tell me, despite my pleas, and she finally explained to me that I had been kidnapped when I was two and again when I was four. Idris decided to leave the shark’s mouth.

As an asylum seeker, I have learned that when a door closes in your face, you have to open another on your own. The frustration and disappointment of losing the graduate program taught me the importance of resilience, fearlessness, motivation, and never giving up. I may not be able to get a paid job right now, but I’m still a hard worker and a fighter.

I learned to stay active and positive by completing my Duke of Edinburgh Gold Award over the summer and volunteering part-time at the children’s charity Coramand the Hackney Migrant Center.

Volunteering with these two phenomenal organizations during this difficult time has been professionally and personally rewarding as I am actively able to help other young people in similar situations by sharing my story and helping them find ways to achieve their goals. dreams despite obstacles.

I recently had the opportunity to share my experience at 40e celebration of the anniversary of the Coram Children’s Legal Center where I spoke about my work as a coordinator with Coram’s Young Citizens, a peer support program that recruits and trains young people from migrant and refugee backgrounds to run workshops in order to support other young newly arrived migrants.

I have facilitated workshops on a range of topics such as understanding the asylum process and living in the UK. Young people often come to me afterwards and tell me that I inspired them with my story and showed them that they can make the impossible possible. I do the same job at the Hackney Migrant Center, and it makes me euphoric to see the positive impact I have on the lives of people in both organizations.

Volunteering has also helped me a lot to take care of my well-being. I do something I love and it makes me happy. This is something I would really recommend to other asylum seekers – DO WHAT MAKES YOU HAPPY! I can’t stress how important this is, whether it’s swimming, playing sports, or binge-watching Netflix. Even when it may seem like your life is on hold, there is still a lot you can do to maintain your physical and mental well-being.

I have decided to learn a new language, Spanish, and I cannot express the joy it brings me (I hope to one day be fluent and add Spanish to Yoruba and English that I already talking).

It is crucial for asylum seekers to separate what we cannot control (the asylum process) from what is under our control (all the skills and activities that we can develop while waiting for a decision) and the need to continue to make progress on what is under our control. My peers from the Young Citizens program also created this animation on how young migrants can take care of their mental health.

Young people can use this time to put themselves in the best possible position, either through education, finding a support network or volunteering that builds their skills and expands their social network. Along with my volunteer work and hobbies, I plan to complete my Masters in Events and Experience Management at Goldsmiths in September 2022.

Today is International Migrants Day and I want to take this moment to draw attention to the positive elements of migration. Idris, myself and many other young migrants and asylum seekers bring our youth, skills, potential, passion and ambition to live our best life in this country. Let us educate our friends and family members who may not understand the challenges migrants and asylum seekers face and stand up for fairness, equality and acceptance.

My message to asylum seekers is that it reflects your desire for dignity, security and a better future. It is woven into the fabric of society and is part of who we are as a human family. I also want to thank my family for being fighters and for staying courageous during this difficult time in our lives – I cannot thank all three of you enough. I love you so much.

* Not his real name

Abdullahi Yussuf is the volunteer coordinator of Coram’s Young Citizens Program, a peer support program for young people with immigrant and refugee backgrounds to help them settle and lead positive lives in the UK. Saturday is International Migrants Day.


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