David* fled his home country with his family after he was tortured for his political beliefs. Life in the UK was hard at first, especially since he did not have legal representation for his asylum claim and was dealing with the psychological impact of torture. Now, David is doing far better and reflects on what Freedom from Torture means to survivors of torture and what Christmas will be like this year.
When I came to Freedom from Torture, my condition was horrible.
I was dealing with trauma from the torture that happened to me in Cameroon and depression. I was also having problems with the Home Office. My claim was rejected a number of times because I did not have a solicitor. No one advised me I could have one, so I submitted appeals myself and the results were negative.
When the Home Office rejected my case, they said I was illegal. I had my son and wife here, we did not know where to start. We were very disturbed by that.
When the Home Office rejected my case, they said I was illegal. I had my son and wife here, we did not know where to start. We were very disturbed by that. Then I was referred to Freedom from Torture. Suddenly, I felt like I was under an umbrella; now, I am covered and I have people on my side.
I have received a lot from Freedom from Torture. The most important was the rehabilitation. When I came here, I was suffering from very bad depression. Since then I have received therapy, which has helped me to be more confident in myself. They also gave me exercises to do, like meditation, that have helped lots. The compassion Freedom from Torture shows too is important. I see the difference on a daily basis.
I have received a lot from Freedom from Torture. Most important was the rehabilitation. When I came here, I was suffering from very bad depression. Since then I have received therapy, which has helped me to be more confident in myself.
In Cameroon, I was involved in politics. That is how I came to be tortured and why I came to the UK. I was also a successful businessman in Cameroon and I’m still a businessman at heart. The time I have been at home working on my asylum claim, I have also been building up some business plans ready for when I’m allowed to work again.
I used to visit Europe quite a lot on holiday before everything happened. My family and I would go to France. Paris is my favourite city, I love the Champs-Elysees and all the sights. We would visit the UK on holiday too. London is my favourite part of the UK to visit, but not to live; it is crowded and expensive. We would come to London with spending money and it would go so quickly!
Christmas in the UK is different from Christmas in Cameron, just like church is different too.
In Cameroon, many activities will take place in church. We have to go to church before Christmas and prepare for the activities that will happen during church services. On the eve of Christmas and Christmas morning, we go to church with the family. We sing and dance and thank God for keeping us alive and well. We really rejoice.
In the afternoon and evening, we go to parties, to the cinema, to the leisure centre. You invite friends and relatives around for drinks and food. You get a big pig for everyone to eat. And, you have to look your best on Christmas day - you get new attire for the day, new shoes, a nice jacket.
Here it is different; New Year is celebrated more. Church is different also. I’ve noticed that when we come and sing, after the singing they go into preaching, there is not so much preaching in Cameroon. In Cameroon, sometimes people cry during worship and singing. Here we don’t cry, but we feel it too, though it’s very humble to Christ, very calm. I am pleased I have the privilege to experience something different to how church is in my country.
If I could meet a Freedom from Torture supporter, I would tell them to continue supporting the organisation without hesitation because Freedom from Torture is doing is so much. It is bringing people back from the dead, and you are helping to bring people back to life and giving them protection.
This year, I will also go to church with my family at Christmas. We are members of our local church; I am part of the gospel group and my wife is in the choir. It is nice to be part of something.
I am also part of the service user group at Freedom from Torture. We are planning to do activities for service users at Christmas too.
If I could meet a Freedom from Torture supporter, I would tell them to continue supporting the organisation without hesitation because Freedom from Torture is doing is so much. It is bringing people back from the dead, and you are helping to bring people back to life and giving them protection. When the Home Office rejects you or puts you on the street, you are in no man’s land. But, with Freedom from Torture, things can get better. Do not hesitate to keep supporting Freedom from Torture so they can continue doing the incredible job they are doing for humanity.
*Names have been changed to protect individuals identity.