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The experiences of our volunteers

To celebrate Refugee Week we’re sharing the experiences of some of our volunteers. Today we share our Co-Chair Amber’s experiences.

Life brought me to the UK on the 20th of December 2012 along with my two kids. We had nothing to rely on apart from the promises of my God. It was my first time travelling internationally, and I could not communicate well since I could not speak English very well. I came here as a shattered and battered woman bereaved of all her hopes. Starting from scratch was not easy, but I knew there is no easy path that leads to success. The only positive part was the feeling of being in a safe place where humans are treated like humans. I held on to God’s promise that He will lead me into my PROMISED LAND, and I was ready to follow Him.


Birmingham was the first city we were placed in, followed by London, Cardiff, then finally Swansea, which has been a home to my kids and me for the last few years. It was the first time in years that we could sleep in peace, and go about life without any fear. The kids were excited to join the school, but when they were gone I was a prisoner of solitude suffering with depression. I had so many intrinsic issues to deal with, and the refusals from the Home Office were adding fuel to fire. But as the Lord is never early, never late, and always on time, I met a nurse just when I needed it most. She referred me to the African Community Centre (ACC) and advised me to take a few counselling sessions.


I could hardly muster up the courage to go there as my poor language skills and low confidence level deterred me. But I was so pleased to make the decision of going there as it brought me in contact with Jill Duarte.  She helped me carve windows to invite light into my dark mind through the first counselling session. I was very vulnerable, and found it hard to trust anyone. But Jill won my trust by making confidentiality the highest of her priorities. Shortly after, I started taking my kids to a local church. Then a few months later the ACC’s manager asked me to join some sewing classes. I joined the classes, but soon after the sewing teacher had to undergo a surgery and was unable to teach. The ACC manager asked me if I was well versed in sewing. I responded that I could just about manage, so she asked me to take over teaching the sewing class.


Teaching this class opened up a lot of opportunities for me. ACC started sending me to represent them in different trainings and seminars. Life started to seem normal and beautiful. ACC and Oxfam Livelihood Project helped me to discover myself and brought the best out of me. These projects introduced me to a new ME. I started weaving my dreams again which I had once abandoned.


Today, I don’t compare myself to anyone else. I am just striving to be a better person than I was yesterday. I am a peer-mentor today, and with the help of God I have been able to help many other battered women like the one I was once. Today my kids are getting the world’s best education and becoming a part of such a just society where there is no discrimination of any sort. I volunteer with Swansea City of Sanctuary as their co-chair. I also volunteer with African Community Centre as a translator and interpreter during counselling sessions. I actively participate in church activities, and most importantly I find peace and joy doing all of these things.


I wish to adopt counselling as a profession in the future. I also wish to participate in projects for girl’s health and education. In the end I want to show my gratitude for God’s blessings, which have reached me through Swansea City of Sanctuary, ACC, Elim Church Swansea, my local community, and also the Border Agency who have facilitated us to start a new life. I want to give a big thank you to all of you, from the bottom of my heart!