Freedom from Torture - "I've learnt not to take Christmas for granted" - Holden's story

"I've learnt not to take Christmas for granted" - Holden's story

As a young torture survivor from Sri Lanka, Christmas is very important to me.

Looking back at memories of Christmas back home everything feels blurred, as I only got to celebrate it five or six times before the war started. I remember I would go to midnight mass with my mum and my sister, and then on Christmas day we would light candles and eat chicken curry.

Even after coming to the UK to seek asylum, I didn’t get to celebrate Christmas for a long time, as I was sleeping in parks and on people’s floors and was completely alone before Freedom from Torture helped me.

This is why Christmas is so important to me: being able to celebrate it is not something I take for granted.

The Freedom from Torture Christmas party last year was unforgettable. When I arrived, everyone treated me like their equal, and I even received my first present in years - perfume, socks and winter gloves! There was singing and lots of food – I don’t know how we ate everything but we did.

I arrived alone and left with many friends. I was so happy to hear that it’s all happening again this year. Maybe I’ll come dressed up as Santa Claus!

I am so grateful to Freedom from Torture: they helped me make a fresh claim and now I have been granted leave to remain.

I can’t wait to give back to this organisation that has been so kind and important to me. I would love to make myself helpful. Maybe I can come and help wrap the Christmas presents for all the other clients this year.

For many torture survivors like me, Freedom from Torture is the only family they get to celebrate Christmas with. Can you donate something to help them ensure every survivor of torture has a gift to open this year?

Thank you, and happy Christmas!

Holden

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