Our Stories

Asmarina’s story

When 18-year-old Asmarina arrived in England, she felt frightened and alone. She’d escaped from forced military service in the Eritrean army.

“When I first arrived at the accommodation centre in Croydon, I knew immediately that I was safe. I’d believed I’d never feel that way again.

In Eritrea, where I’m from, everyone is forced to do national service. I was sent away from my family to the military training centre at Sawa. For many young women like me, as well as military training, this means enduring sexual harassment and rape from army superiors.

After a year, I managed to escape to my grandmother’s house, and then to my uncle’s in Sudan. But I knew the army would find me there. I desperately didn’t want to leave. But I had no choice. I was so scared about what they would do to me and my family.

I paid a man to bring me to England. He left me outside the Home Office in Croydon. I was so alone and missed my family terribly. I was terrified that they would send me back to Eritrea or to prison, but they sent me to Migrant Help.

I met a woman at the accommodation centre from Ethiopia who spoke my language and started to make friends. The staff there were kind and understanding. They explained what was happening and gave me advice. The help I’ve received has made me feel almost as if I am still at home with my family.

Should my asylum claim be approved, I would like to study and work as a computer engineer. Maybe one day when it is safe, I can return home – that is my dream.”