Assalah's Story

Hello, my name is Assalah, I am 19 years old and I come from Iraq. My father has disappeared in Iraq since more than 2 years now. Probably died… That’s why my mother, sister and brother had to run away from the country.


Because the road to Europe is dangerous and expensive, I stayed alone in Iraq, at my mum’s relatives that I didn’t knew before…


I was living there, alone, staying at home, not going to school, neither to town, because the city was unsafe… It was really hard. I felt like a stranger. Two years is a long period to live like this… I was tired, psychologically and physically, to live far away from my family and to not know when we could be reunited again…


In Belgium, where my family had asked for asylum, my mother and my sister got sick. Cancer. My mother is good now but my sister is still on chemo … It was also very hard on my mother to feel she left me alone. Her relatives kept on asking her when I will leave, because I was a charge for them… It was time of insecurity …


After two years of procedure, my family finally had their refugee status in Belgium. Because I had reached majority at that time, the family reunion was no longer possible so we introduced a humanitarian visa application. It is an uncertain issue, that generally receives a negative answer and that takes long time… So it was a period of stress again…


By chance, everything went fast! When I knew they would allow me the visa, I felt like a bird, to which someone had opened the cage. I told them, at the embassy, “I feel I’m born again."


Then, someone in your organization, Amy, gave me the miles. And in such few days, you’ve paid for me the plane ticket that would take me back to my family, to my new life.


When I arrived at the airport in Belgium & when I saw my mother and sister, I felt peace and hope. I feel my health and mood have changed directly… I have begun to eat again …


Me and my family are really thankful to all the people who helped us and supported us and made that all these procedures go faster.


To all of you: really, really, a huge THANK YOU.


Assalah


Note: Assalah, as you may note, does not entirely fit our criteria for our reunion program.  Prior to taking her as a client we received assurances from our NGO partner, Caritas Belgium, that she was not going to be traveling on a short-stay humanitarian visa and that she would have an asylum application processed on entry into Belgium.  Assalah has chosen not to change her name for this story.

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