Saharo is a single mum from Somalia. She and her three children, two girls and one boy, arrived in the UK in July 2017 through the Gateway Protection Programme from the Kakuma camp in Kenya and have been thriving together as a family ever since.
Saharo is from Somalia, and there she says, “I see it’s difficult. The kidnapping, fighting.” In addition to the instability in her country, her husband created an unsafe environment for her and her children, at one point threatening her: “He took my son. He said he will kill me.”
She left her husband and fled from Somalia in 2006, which is when she and her children became refugees in the Kakuma camp in Kenya. Surviving camp-conditions is difficult for any person but can be especially so for a single mum like Saharo. “While waiting for resettlement, you are not safe. I was alone.”
When Saharo and her children arrived in the UK in 2017 through the Gateway Protection Program, she was determined to build a life she and her children could be proud of. “You see my English is low. But still I have hope that I can do everything. I hope to help people.”
With the support of her caseworker, she applied for a volunteering job as an assistant in children nursery and five months later in 2018, was offered a job in a care home. In her new role, she cared for a woman struggling with depression who had been in a wheelchair for three years.
“I told her my story. All my problems from before. Starting when I was born to when I came to the UK. She said, ‘Saharo, you are a strong lady.’ And I said, ‘Every time you have problem, look for tomorrow. Don’t look to yesterday.’” Saharo’s stories left a mark – the woman’s mood lifted and she could walk again, eventually leaving the care home to live independently.
The manager at the care home noticed how Saharo changed the lives of the people she cared for even though she is not fluent in English: “My manager say, ‘How? With your little bit of English, how did you help the people?’ I say, ‘I help with love.’”
Saharo’s kids could not be prouder of their mum. “My children see I have my job and say, ‘When I finish university, I want to help refugees like my mum.’”
When she speaks of her children, she beams: “Oh, my children are amazing. They are good. I want them to have everything in life. But they say, ‘No, I don’t need expensive clothes and shoes. No mum, keep your money.’ They are happy. All the teachers say, ‘You have good children. They are respectful, kind.’”
Saharo says the UK is her home: “I feel like I’m part of the UK. I love the neighbours. I’m so happy. I have my job. I have my children. I want to say thank you to the UK.”
She counts her blessings every day and tackles life head on with cheer, love, and humour. Still, she can’t help but think of others who didn’t have the same chance she did: “I know people in 1997 that become refugee and they are still refugee. There no one will help them. They are sick. The children die. Some people killing. They have no school in Kakuma camp. It is a problem to stay a refugee.”
When asked if resettlement should continue, she says: “I say, keep going. Don’t stop. Because it’s difficult for people there. They are in refugee camps for 20 years. Don’t stop.”
When asked what she has gained since resettlement, Saharo says, “Freedom. Now life is finally good. The children have freedom.” One of the last few things she says is a small prayer for other families who did not make it out of the camps: “God help everyone.”