Mohammad has been a RA-C client since late April, when he was moved from London to Colchester. He is from Iran and is seeking asylum. He has become very involved in his community here and volunteers three times a week at his local church. From time to time he also attends RA-C’s gardening and table tennis groups.
The following conversation took place on his birthday, when we had the pleasure to celebrate him with a card, cake and some small gifts. Mohammad is happy to share his thoughts and experience with us all, which we hope makes you as feel as privileged as we do. In bold are the questions (and comments) Mohammad’s caseworker asked him.
How did you feel before coming to Colchester?
I was in a hotel room for seven months. In the hotel we were not allowed in each other’s rooms or to talk to each other. It was very bad. A kind person at the hotel provided a mobile phone for me. There was around 100 people in the hotel. I used my phone to advertise through Instagram for people who needed supplies, clothes and food, for example. I helped manage the supplies and deliver the clothes and food to each room; this helped me and them.
What are the challenges of being an asylum seeker?
Language is a big challenge for me personally. It affects my ability to communicate and do things well. Health has also been a big problem, personally, because I suffer from COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease), chronic bronchitis and asthma. Getting access to the hospital for a face-to-face appointment was very difficult. In London it was very bad, I made four trips to the hospital in an ambulance.
The problems I had in my country forced me to seek refuge in this country.
What would you like the British public to know about asylum seekers and refugees?
I see on Instagram and Facebook incorrect information about asylum seekers and refugees, but this has always been a problem and it takes time for change to happen. I think more correct information should be spread on social media. A lot of Britons know about the problems refugees face and they help people who arrive here.
What does religion mean to you?
In my own country, [he] did not help me. But, in this country, [he] helped me a lot to change. To learn to love. Now, there are too many friends who love me! Before, it was not good; it was very, very hard for me.
What do you do at the church when you volunteer?
I do a lot of different things! Cleaning, watering the plants, making sandwiches, greeting people.
What are some of your dreams for the future?
I want to continue to help those in need, and to be useful in society.
You are already useful in society.
We will help anyone in front of us like a mirror. This is my character and I like it very much.
What does involvement with RAC and the church mean to you?
I have made a lot of friends; they love me a lot and help me, like you. I am very happy about this situation. I cannot work for more than two or three hours due to illness and getting tired quickly, but being around people and good friends like you gives me energy. I get energy when I am at the office. I am proud to have a friend in you all.
I thank you very much, you have helped me a lot, especially my caseworker. You all love me very much. I tell my friends that this organisation has helped me so much. I cannot reciprocate your love and help.