The essay below was written by 18 year old Salome, who fled the DR Congo in 2009 and eventually made her way to Nairobi in 2010. When she arrived at Heshima Kenya, she had experienced a great deal of trauma and had limited schooling. Today Salome is a dedicated student, loves to read and write, and is known by all as a considerate and helpful member of the Safe House. She is currently awaiting resettlement in the United States. She wrote this essay as an assignment in journalism class about the right to freedom of expression.
The Rights of Refugees Like Me
My name is Salome and I am 18 years old. I ran away from my country, Congo, because of war. I came here without knowing where I was going. I had hope when I finally reached Kenya and I began to look for asylum. I was told I was going to be safe but life didn’t happen like that. I was kidnapped by unbelievable people for a month and a half.
When I was kidnapped I thought I might die but I thank God I lived. Somehow, someone helped me to escape and took me to Heshima Kenya. Here I found people who have helped me with shelter, food, clothes, medicine and education. Now I am safe and secure.
One day I was watching the news and the government of Kenya said that all refugees should go to the camps! I felt so scared when I heard that. I wonder why the government has to do this to us.
We as refugees already face so much: discrimination, violence, hate speech, arrest, and sexual harassment. I didn’t expect to be in Kenya or be a refugee. I didn’t come here because I wanted to come. I was run out of my country with nowhere else to go.
I came to Kenya looking for safety in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. I learned in class about Article 14. It says that everyone has the right to seek asylum from persecution.
Sometimes I worry if I had to leave. How am I going to survive without my family or knowing anybody? In the camp I don’t think the government will be able to protect girls like us.
I hope the government understands we don’t have be degraded or punished just because we are refugees. We should be treated as equals and have recognition as people with rights.