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I came from Afghanistan.
I was quite happy there with my family all together.
I still remember when I was a kid, the mountains and a lot of dust
and the houses aren't that rich like in England.
They're like tents.
There was some fighting and war and it started to build up.
They were sort of taking the good areas, they started to bomb there.
Sometimes when I looked out the window, I felt quite sad.
So then my grandma had decided all of us go
to a safer place in Europe.
By the time we got to the airport,
I remember they let my grandma in, then me but not my family.
They said they didn't have passports.
Then they had to go back.
We thought that they were on another plane.
But when we got to England, they weren't there.
We thought, something must have happened,
they might be alive, you never know.
I had nightmares about my mum picking me up from school
and then when my eyes opened up,
I realised it was just a dream, it wasn't real.
Then, every night I was crying, I was always dreaming about them.
It was like my bones were broken. I felt really hungry, really sad.
I went to school, I learned new things there.
It was really frustrating that I couldn't speak English.
The only word I knew was yes.
Sometimes I get embarrassed that I don't know the word.
The thing I was doing was sitting in the corner, doing nothing,
watching other people play and sometimes people came to play with me
and then I started to play with them.
I found new friends.
I started practising football with them.
Everyone was amazed by my pictures
because I was a really good drawer.
I had something special to show them every day,
pictures of my family, my mum and dad, me,
Spiderman, because I like Spiderman.
Sometimes I would draw pictures of football
because I like football and it made me happy.
When I keep on imagining my family, I want them to come here.
Four-and-a-half years passed and then we had a phone call.
My cousin said that they saw my dad in the mosque praying
and then they handed the phone to my dad
and I started to talk with my dad,
my mum and dad and then I was more happy.
My first wish would be for my mum and dad to come to this country
because it feels like...
It's actually going to happen but I get upset
and I wish they could come right now.
I can't wait for that day.
The streets would be full of people selling food.
The food would have...
If you're selling food on the street, it would have flies on it.
On the buses, because it's a really small country
and there's lots of people stuffed in, there's no place to sit.
If you're sat, even if you're a baby,
you have to get off the seat for a bigger person.
Then the streets had dust so if the wind blew,
it would go in your eyes.
I don't know why the war started.
Eritrea, a long time ago, used to be a big country,
then they split it with Ethiopia.
Since we split from Ethiopia, we got the Red Sea.
The war started because they wanted the Red Sea.
Then all this war happened, lots of people had to get away
and we didn't have lots of airplanes
because everybody was moving, moving.
I remember that we had to leave when I was a young age.
My dad couldn't come because he knew secrets.
The guy that's leading us right now is very, very bad
and my dad wanted to escape but he couldn't.
They said to him,
"If you tell people of our secrets, we will kill your wife," and me.
He told and we had to run.
I remember that we got on a plane then I slept.
I knew it was a really long journey and sometimes we took buses.
I fell asleep a lot of times. Then at the end, we arrived in England.
It was very hard to fit in with hardly any English.
I started school and I was very scared cos I didn't have no friends.
Everybody had groups.
One day, this boy, who fell out with a group.
Me and him, we said, "Why don't we be friends?"
Then we joined other people's groups so we made lots of friends.
A few weeks later, I came back from school.
There were lots of ladies in my house. My mum was on the bed.
I asked her, "Why was everybody crying?"
She said, "I have something to confess to you.
"Your dad, he died there." I started crying, then she started crying.
I told her to stop crying.
She said, "I'll stop crying if you stop crying."
We both ended up stopped crying.
For a few days, I stopped eating.
I only drank a little bit
and I couldn't finish my dinner at school.
Mum came to me and she said, "You don't have to be very upset
"because, that is why we left home, because it was dangerous."
I started feeling OK and it is right that we should have come here.
It got better.
I made a lot of friends. We don't talk about our lives at home.
We don't talk about this stuff.
We don't talk about sad things, we talk about good things.
We don't mention the sad things, we act like they never happened.
My friend, when I am feeling sad, he always comes up with a joke
and cheers me up.
When he is feeling sad, I come up with a joke and cheer him up.
I was very young when my mum left me. I was three-and-a-half.
I don't know why she left me.
People were trying to kill her or something.
People from the church that we used to go to took care of me.
They brought me up. I just learned to be my own mother and father.
I thought that I had no mother or father.
I knew she was out there somewhere for me.
You would have 30 children eating from one plate
and it was a really big plate.
You only have a small amount of food. Enough to feed one person.
I did not have anything to eat for about a week.
The only thing I survived on was water
and that water wasn't really clean.
It had snails and dirty stuff inside it,
but you have no choice but to drink it.
You would watch other kids walk past you. They would laugh at you.
There are saying, "You are dumb."
When people are playing, I would be sitting by myself,
reading my book or crying and looking at others.
I left the orphanage
and then I got put in this big dark lorry with 200 other people.
They started driving me away.
Because I was the little one, I was close to the door.
I saw this lady, she had no shoes.
All she was wearing was a pair of jogging bottoms and a T-shirt
and she was running and screaming my name.
I looked at her and I remembered her face. That was my mum.
I started crying and I know it might sound strange, but I don't know
where I got the power, but I jumped from the back of a lorry onto her.
Then me and her started holding each other, screaming.
I could not believe it was so real.
From that point on, everything turned around in my life.
My mum, she went to the British Embassy and the people gave me
a visa and we boarded the plane and we arrived in Heathrow.
My first day at school, it was really tough.
I mumbled because I was afraid to speak to people.
I often got anxious and got panic attacks.
There comes a time where I am sitting there in class
and I don't understand what is going on.
There is this click in the back of my mind.
What if I get home and my mum is not there?
That is the moment where my heart starts pumping really fast.
I start breathing really fast.
Before you know it, I pass out.
In school, they have created this special group.
Whenever I am feeling angry, sad or anxious, I go there.
There will always be someone I can talk to,
who I can tell what is going on.
They will try to fix it as much as possible.
I am really improving my socialising skills.
I am a fighter and a survivor and no matter how much you go through,
no matter how much you suffer,
you are always going to be accepted for who you are.
One day, you will be like this shining star.
At the end of every dark tunnel, there is always a rainbow.
Life, in my country, was quite distressing.
I didn't attend school because my mother
was a member of a particular religion that my country doesn't favour.
I could see other children around me experiencing a normal childhood,
going to school and playing outside with their friends.
I felt very different.
Because, in the UK, being a Christian is not a problem, but,
in my country, which is a predominantly Muslim country, it wasn't a favoured
religion or tradition. My mum kept going secretly to church on Sundays.
When the police invaded the secret services that they were having,
the whole atmosphere was full of flames.
It felt like everything was going to burst out.
My mum was treated very bad from the local citizens
and she felt like she wanted to escape somewhere.
We secretly decided to leave. We didn't let anyone know.
I think my father found someone to take us at the back of a lorry, I think it was.
We were clutched together. We slept and slept.
It was very dark so we couldn't see whether daylight had come.
We lost track of time.
It was a journey that we didn't know where it would lead to.
We got to the UK.
I began to experience the childhood that I had been dreaming about.
I had friends, played outside very comfortably and safe.
I had a normal family life.
But then the decision letter came that we had been rejected
leave to remain in this country.
It was the letter that changed everything.
This one piece of paper changed my whole life once again.
At six o'clock in the morning, these huge men like monsters,
they came to our house and put us in a van.
They took us to a detention centre.
There is a lot of closed doors banging all the time.
Huge walls that you can't see from.
I used to look up over the wall and think,
"I wish I could fly and just escape."
I can remember once I held the bars in my hands.
I couldn't believe that I was in prison in the UK
for doing nothing, for being a child, for escaping to safety.
We had received good news that we would be let out
and I started living normally once again, but with fear
that this would happen again and it did happen again.
They had taken us straight to the airport
and then we were sent back to our country.
They didn't welcome us at all.
They looked at us with hostility and hatred.
They just thought, OK, why did you go to that country?
Why did you go to the UK?
And then, my mum fainted because they had hit her across the head.
And then, we travelled from place to place, searching out some help.
But it was obvious that we wouldn't get any help,
so it was then that my mum decided we had to leave once again.
And then, she found an agent and then we were brought back to the UK.
We were taken to our new home.
The people were very, very kind to us, very welcoming. I felt very safe.
And I just lived normally, but there was also that fear within me
that it could happen once again, it could happen any time.
We had just received a phone call, I thought it was bad news once again.
But when she said, "I have good news
"for you, you've been granted leave to remain,"
I just thought, "Yes, finally!"
That was the decision that saved my whole life.
Now I'm living a normal life.
I have learned from my experiences, of course,
and I want to become a lawyer so I can help people who've also
experienced the same thing, because I know this problem will never end,
people are still suffering everywhere in the world, so hopefully
I want to become an international lawyer to save everyone!
I am 16 years old and I am a Kurdish Iranian.
The reason that we left Iran was that my dad disagreed with
how things were going, he disagreed with the system.
And I remember, my father had to leave the country.
Of course, his life was in danger when he left.
It was kind of the story of many people
against the Iranian Government.
I suppose my father was lucky that he got away,
because members of my mum's family, because they were Kurdish,
a lot of them were executed.
The years that followed, my mum kept getting questioned
about where my father had gone.
I remember the night that we were leaving, everyone was really
kind of sad, I didn't really understand why they were sad.
But then eventually, when we got to the airport,
there was that moment I realised that I'm leaving.
And I was upset nearly the whole journey.
In Italy, we had to jump over a fence,
which seemed rather scary to me.
We got stopped by the police and I was scared of the police dog.
It was at night, I think we were going through a little forest
or something, I'm not sure.
But I remember the dogs barking, that scared me.
I remember staying one night inside a cottage,
I think maybe it was around Slovenia, I'm not sure.
I remember the night that we were leaving, outside the cottage,
I felt scared because it was at that point where
I could see the concern on my mum's face.
To get into England, we got into a lorry from France,
the lorry was full of iron bars.
It was the first time throughout the journey where I was really,
really uncomfortable and scared.
I really wanted to get off.
And then, when we finally got over to the UK,
I remember someone cutting open the back of the lorry,
kind of like one of these movies where the sunlight comes in.
Then we came out and I remember the British Border Agency,
they were really friendly. And then, of course,
it was around that day that I saw my dad after, like, two or three years.
And it was the weirdest thing, because it wasn't what you
would expect, running to your dad, hugging him.
At first, I didn't recognise who it was.
And then after a while, he told me how he was my dad and,
you know, he's missed me so much
and I remember sitting in the back and my mum was sitting in the front,
I remember it was that night,
the whole journey, I just kept looking at him,
trying to figure out what's going on, who he is.
And then, slowly, I got more and more comfortable towards him.
The first few days at school were really hard on me,
not because of the other students or teachers,
but not knowing anything, just literally being an outsider.
That was really scary for me.
The memory I have was that the school had started and
they had closed the fences, and at break time my mum came to say hello.
And then when she did come, I talked to her,
and then once the bell rang to start lessons again,
I remember holding on to the fence as if it was some sort of prison.
You could feel, literally not knowing what someone around you
is saying, even though they're being friendly, you could tell by
the smiles and facial expressions that they're being friendly,
not knowing what their meaning was, it was quite scary for me.
There was a mixed variety of, um, backgrounds
and the fact that there were refugee kids at that school
and this centre where you would go to after school to be with
other kids was a great support,
so even though the first few months were really uncomfortable,
having that sense of atmosphere was a great help.
Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd