On the 07/07/08 I was asked if I could give a speech to a group of visiting trustees about how the Red Cross Refugee Unit has help me as an Asylum Seeker in Glasgow and my achievements as a volunteer. This is what I said:

When I came to the UK, I did not know about the Red Cross and what they do. I was referred here by my lawyer to use the Tracing & messaging Service.

But before I came…

I was in sorrow and all alone. I used to have bad thoughts, suicidal ones. I saw my life flash across the sky so many times and I felt so afraid. Police kept on picking me up from different places but I did not know how I got there. I did not care about anyone else but me. I prayed to God all the time, begging him to take my life when was sleeping. But he did not.

I used to have hallucinations and hear voices from my past. I once found myself by the River Clyde wanting to throw myself in, and a man who was passing by pulled me down and slapped me. This brought me back to my senses. I was sort of dreaming. After few days I tried to look for the man and thank him because on that day he saved my life.

When I came to the Red Cross…

I became a client for both the Orientation Service & the International Tracing and Messaging Services. I was so traumatised, depressed, and didn’t want to talk to anybody. I Just spent my time crying.

Because I spoke fluent English, I was not very difficult and I was given one to one meetings with Sarah Zadik (Service coordinator for Women in Crisis) and Nathalie Ouriachi (Orientation Service Manager).volunteer using map to show direction

They offered me emotional support, listened to me and started referring me to specific organisations that would help me, for example, the Compass Team. Volunteers showed me places and helped to find my way in Glasgow, they took me to several women’s drop-ins, registered me at college. They helped me understand where I was going. They understood when my heart was full of sadness and despair and they gave me the strength to carry on.

This is a place where they never judged me, I received smiles, friendship and by the time I left, I had relief in my eyes. Relief that made me feel I’m not alone any more.

I have gained – Confidence
Hope, Knowledge, Happiness

I would have been nothing without their help. I had a choice and I chose hope.

These are things that inspired me to come and work as a volunteer at this organisation. I got something from all the help and I promise to share it with others who need it as badly as I did. I feel stronger every day and this is all because of the team in this organisation.

ITMS found my son after 13 years of separation, I have contact with him on a weekly basis, he is with UNHCR and I will continue being International Tracing Service’s client until they locates the rest of my family.

I have been volunteering for the Red Cross nearly 3years
For both Refugee unit & Hillington –

First Aid administrator
Escort & Transport
Emergency Response
Therapeutic care and

Refugee Unit –

Refugee awareness training
Volunteer Coordinators

I know that all these look too much but when you put your heart to it, everything looks easy. I do them all. Everyday I wake up just to come and work. Every time I enter this office I feel like am home. I took my chances and I will never regret it

Image: © Jonathan Blank