Large numbers of people flee Eritrea every year due to government oppression. When Andom tried to leave, he was caught and put into prison for two years. His experience there was painful and hard. “They don’t feed you well … there is no shower.” It was one day however, while a prison guard was “relaxing”, that Andom made a decision to escape and run out of the prison. Andom was successful and this was the first step towards fleeing Eritrea.
From Eritrea, Andom journeyed to Sudan, Libya, Italy and then through France to Calais where he stayed for a month before hiding, with four others, in a lorry which was heading to the UK. When asked about his Christian faith through all of this, he spoke of how God was in every aspect of his journey. He said, “God has given me every situation … he saved my life … nothing I did by myself, everything was given to me by God.”
Andom entered the UK in June 2014 and quickly accessed temporary accommodation provided by the Home Office. He eventually got the good news of being granted leave to remain in the UK, however this also meant that he had to leave his Home Office accommodation. He was left without a place to stay and without security.
Over the next few months, Andom managed to find some temporary solutions including a host family for four months through ‘Refugees at Home’. Unfortunately in December 2017 Andom had to move on from there and he was now on the streets. This, he said, was “very bad”. It was “terrible weather” such that Andom could not sleep during the night and found himself instead, sleeping in the day. Thankfully he was given details of Crisis Skylight and it was through Crisis that Andom accessed GrowTH.
“GrowTH changed my life”
The contrast from the streets to GrowTH was significant for Andom. Going from sleepless nights to safe, peaceful sleep in the shelter and being able to have breakfast made such a difference to him. “I was very, very happy … I will not forget my time”.
He spoke of how everyone was “lovely” and he described the people in the shelter as a “family”. As well as this, Andom worked alongside his Advocate Worker and in January 2018, he moved into the GrowTH Supported Housing. GrowTH, he said, “changed his life.”
“Now I can think for the future”
Finally with some security and a place he could call home, Andom could now start focusing on studying and looking for work. Andom’s new home enabled him to “think for the future.”
He is focusing on studying English and looking for work as well as volunteering in GrowTH night shelter, which he hopes to continue to do next season.