Here’s Mohamed’s story of his torture in Afghanistan and his subsequent escape to the UK, where he was referred to YMCA. It’s not an easy read…but important to know what many refugees have endured.
‘My family had a successful and happy life in Afghanistan until the Taliban shot my father and cousin dead when I was 12.
My sister and her husband were murdered a year later.
The Taliban returned and grabbed me. They drove me through the mountains into Pakistan and for two years I was trained to be a suicide bomber. When I refused to blow myself and others up, I was hung up by my legs and tortured.
I escaped and made my way back to my mother, but I wasn’t safe at home. A friend smuggled me to Iran, then into Turkey … Greece… Italy… and finally to the “Jungle” in Calais.
I got to England in the back of a lorry and gave myself up to the police. Social Services put me in shared accommodation for a couple of years, and at 19 I was referred to YMCA – Ventura House, Hayes.
I was in a bad way, taking sleeping tablets, anti-depressants and pain medication. I had terrible nightmares. Staying at YMCA made me feel safe. No one could get in without reception knowing. The staff really helped me. They encouraged me to get involved with some running and football and other games which helped me relax.
The activities made me feel better and I met other young people which gave me confidence. For the first time in many years I started to enjoy myself. Sports also helped me with my English. I didn’t speak it at all but now I learned to communicate. YMCA enrolled me on an ESOL course.
I still get nightmares sometimes but not being in my room all the time keeps my mind off thinking about the past too much. I don’t take so many tablets. With the help of YMCA I got a job. I work in production making car parts. I’d like to go to university one day. Now I believe if you work hard you can do the things you want to do. I miss my mother every day and don’t know if she is alive or not but I am much happier now. My health has improved and I feel I have a future.’