When Basirat was just 19 years old, she was already living on the streets in her home country of Nigeria. She had lost her whole family.
Then, she met her husband and had two boys. Sadly, life didn’t get any easier.
Basirat and her family shared a room with her husband’s brother, and they suffered terrible abuse at his hands. He was a monster. He repeatedly raped Basirat and hit her children. With her husband away working, and no family to turn to, she was powerless against him.
The family’s home life was a nightmare, but there were dangers outside too.
Basirat’s first child Abdullai couldn’t walk or talk properly. Many people thought he was evil. So much so that, when he was just two, he was kidnapped.
Abdullai was found alive, abandoned in the bushes, three days later. His little legs had been slashed with razor blades. Basirat says, “I think he must have something important to do in life to have survived.”
The violence at home continued. “His brother was beating my children, sometimes he’d punch me on my head. One day he burnt my son’s leg with an iron. When I saw, I shouted at him to stop and he poured boiling hot tea on me.”
It was the most cruel, vicious attack. But, incredibly, it gave the family a way out.
Basirat went to hospital and told someone everything. They helped her escape to the UK.
Although Basirat’s story is heart-breaking, she has not been met with compassion when trying to claim asylum. Even though she is receiving death threats from her brother in law, even though she believes her disabled son would be in danger in Nigeria – she has been refused asylum twice.
It seems as if every door has been slammed in the family’s face. All except one – Refugee Action.
Thanks to our supporters, we’ve been able to help the family move from a damp, cold, overcrowded room to a place of their own. We’ve helped Basirat access a little support while she continues to try and claim asylum. We’re also helping her to claim asylum for Abdullai, so that, hopefully, he can be sure of protection at least.
Life is changing for the better for 13 year-old Abdullai. After years of being told he was lazy by doctors back home, he finally has a diagnosis. He has Cerebral Palsy and is being treated. Both boys are at school.
Basirat is so proud of her sons. She said: “They are so lovely. They have won so many awards at school. Abdullai is a role model. Everybody loves him, unlike back home.”
After all the torment and torture he has suffered, Abdullai has found some happiness. But it could all still be snatched away by a system that tries to reject refugees who flee here, without so much as a fair hearing. The system is inhumane. It has to change.
If you’re moved by Basirat’s story, there is something you can do. You can fight back. Join us in fighting for the UK we believe in – a compassionate UK that has a proud tradition of welcoming refugees.