National Poetry Day: Refuge - Breaking Barriers

National Poetry Day: Refuge

Our wonderful employment adviser, Seraye, wrote this poem inspired by the experiences of refugees she has worked and volunteered with over the years.


Seraye Delnissaw

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Home, the only place I have known, no longer safe. Uncertainty has begun to plague my mind, heart, and soul and safety is unknown, so I seek refugee. Refuge in a country where my plight is over, where I can rebuild what once was. Where safety can finally be mine and living in fear is just a distant memory.

But now I face new challenges, not knowing how to navigate in a place where the language is not my own, where I am questioned daily. Where did you come from? Why did you come here? And what are you going to do now?

No answers to these questions for I know not what I can do. I once was a doctor, a lawyer and now I am here seeking help, needing a job to integrate into this society. Where do I go for help? Who can lead me onto the path I used to be on?

Not knowing which way to turn, or which door to unlock. Stuck in a never-ending cycle of meetings and repeating my story, heart beating with every memory that comes out my mouth. A past that I no longer wish to visit yet replays in my mind like a broken record. Where do I start? How do I begin? Waiting for the chance to be let in.

What feels like eternity passes and seasons come and go, all you can do is sit and wait! Wait for a piece of paper that says,’ you have the right to work’ this is what so many are longing for, this is the key to unlocking the door to a future unknown.

It’s here, yes! Now it’s time to shine, hundreds of thoughts rushing through you mind, how do I find a job? How do I pick up from where I left off back home? I ask for a job, they ask me for a CV, what’s that I think, they ask me for experience I explain in broken English I have qualified as a doctor in my home country, they say what about here in the UK?

What about here? I am new, but look, it says right here,’ the right to work,’ so when can I start? The need to create routine, to fight this depression that slowly creeps upon me every day. But they look at this paper and say you need experience within the UK.

So give me experience then, the women looks up at me and says it’s not that simple, you have to study, you have to improve your English, go and get advice and when your ready try your luck again.

Luck, try my luck. What does that mean? Get advice? From who? From where? I don’t understand what is happening. I stare at this paper, looking for any hidden messages or clues to help me get this advice, but all that stares back at me are four words ‘the right to work.”

Stuck in a place of limbo, waiting for some answers or a guiding hand, like a whisper on the wind, my friend tells me about people that help those like me, where answers are given to questions, where help is provided, and those doors of uncertainty are unlocked.

I break down and cry, tears of joy as hope begins to invade my inner being, the chance to rebuild, the opportunity to be seen and heard are now at my fingertips.

Need some support?