(Related by an Asylum Welcome Volunteer)
Flora is from Kabul, capital of Afghanistan. I met her at the Asylum Welcome office - she was eager to help with the cleaning.
One day she told me her story, becoming tearful as she remembered. She was in Oxford with her husband who was chronically ill, a daughter with severe learning disabilities and a teenage son. In Kabul many members of her extended family had been killed or imprisoned. Her own family had fled the war: first her husband and son, then herself and her daughter.
When I met Flora, she had been in Oxford for two years. Her asylum claim had been rejected by immigration authorities. Initially, the authorities denied her claim because they said they didn't believe her story (for Flora that was the hardest blow). Then her son, who had left home by then, was involved in some relatively minor unlawful activity, such as shoplifting or driving without a license. The family's claim was denied a second time. Over the years, all the people who arrived at the same time as this family have been granted leave to remain.
I saw Flora go through the depths of despair. She was constantly worried that they might return her family to Kabul. They no longer had any family there. Flora was especially worried that her family might be deported individually, and she would be separated from her husband and daughter, both of whom needed her care. The constant fear and insecurity took its toll, and Flora became weary and distrustful. Her faith in a Higher Being was shaken but she continued to be generous with others, far beyond her means.
After eight years and a change of solicitor, the family has finally been granted leave to remain. Flora is now adjusting to her new reality but I can see she finds it difficult to believe that she no longer has to worry. It will be a slow process for her to rebuild her life.
Flora is now adjusting to her new reality but I can see she finds it difficult to believe that she no longer has to worry. It will be a slow process for her to rebuild her life.