A couple of weeks ago I got a phone call that evoked so much happiness in me I could hardly contain it.
‘Jaz, I’m in England!’ my friend Adam told me down the phone. ‘I’m in Liverpool!’
I couldn’t believe it! The first of all of the people I have met in the camp over the last three months, who had successfully made the terrifying journey across the channel.
I was over the moon for him! We had a long chat and he told me that despite his happiness, he was struggling with the cold, arriving with just the clothes on his back, not a bean more to start his life with.
I got to work making him a welcome package full of warm clothes, a pair of shoes, socks, pants, toiletries, some packets of noodles and anything else I could think of that you may need if you were starting your life afresh, with nothing, as an African facing the British winter (in the North as well!)
I sent it to him and put the plans in motion to get the team to go and visit him in his new home, but a week or so later, the package arrived back on my doorstep. Adam had been moved from Liverpool to Bolton. Unsure about his future and what was to happen to him, he hadn’t known and apologized profusely on the phone.
It didn’t matter, it made me even more determined to visit him, so last week we filled the boot with the package and much, much more (Dan hand picked him some great items from the warehouse, some Ralph Lauren polos and a sick pair of Adidas Superstars), and left first thing for Bolton!
I was overcome with emotion when he opened the door, and even more so when it turned out he had prepared us all lunch. He lives of £5 a day and I had promised we would take him out for some food, but still, lunch was ready for us. We ate spaghetti with a great sauce and even drank Tango from a mis-matched collection of plastic plates and cups, and it was amazing.
Adam shares his new home with 6 other guys, 5 from Iran and one from Eritrea.
They are all seeking asylum, waiting for documents allowing them to stay, to work, to study, to start a proper life. In the mean time they live in a limbo of uncertainty but amazing positivity. It was so amazing to see him unpack his new phone, now able to let his family (whom he showed he faded little pictures of) know he is safe and happy. Highly skilled and qualified as a computer technician, with a great level of English already and the passion and drive to learn, I have so much hope for Adam, now he is here. But what about all the thousands of other people wishing for the same chance? Must they continue to risk their lives trying?