A TEENAGER who fled his homeland after an attack that wiped out his whole family has made a video about his journey to Swindon as part of a campaign to tackle racism against immigrants.
Abdulkareem Musa Adams, 16, was forced to leave his home in Darfur, Sudan, at the age of seven after his parents and sisters were killed in an attack that destroyed his entire village.
Eight years on, Abdul has been granted asylum in the UK and lives with his foster mum Ira Muir in Swindon. The teen now works with Fixers, a youth organisation that empowers young people to tackle difficult issues through creative projects.
Through them he made a film about his struggle – Journey To A Safer Place – as part of a campaign to end prejudice against refugees, asylum seekers and immigrants.
In the video, showcased to students at St Joseph’s Catholic College on Tuesday, Abdul said: “I want to thank the UK for giving safe haven to people like me.
“My life is better now. I have a foster family and I’m learning English and going to college.
“I wish I could still be with my family in Sudan but I am so grateful for the help the UK has given me.”
Abdul and his brother were out herding goats when they first saw the smoke rising from their village. When they returned, everything had been destroyed.
“When the attack first began all we could see were helicopters because we were on the outskirts,” Abdul said.
“Then we saw people on horseback riding into the village and then flames coming out of the houses, and we could hear the sound of guns and bombs.”
The boys travelled for three days on a donkey into neighbouring Chad, where they stayed at a Red Cross refugee camp for 18 months with a couple whose family had also been killed in the attack. But they lost each other during a commotion sparked by fears they may be forced to return to Sudan.
Abdul still searches daily on social networking websites Skype and Facebook for people in Chad, Libya and Sudan who can help him find his brother.
“From that point onwards I feel like I have been on the run,” he said.
“For years now I have been trying to get away from trouble. I felt so hopeless and alone.”
Abdul went on to Libya, where he stayed for three years and got caught up in the uprising against former leader Col Muammar al-Gaddafi. He was sent to jail for refusing to become a child soldier, where he was beaten on a daily basis – at times so badly he was left in hospital. From there made his way to France, where he survived by sheltering in dustbins and on handouts from a local mosque and church.
But, unable to find sanctuary there, Abdul climbed onto the underside of a truck that took him to the UK and finally made his way to Swindon.
There he was helped by The Harbour Project, a charity which provides a safe haven for refugees and asylum seekers.
To find out more about Abdul, contact Fixers by visiting: www.fixers.org.uk. To contact the Harbour Project visit www.harbourproject.org.uk