My invisible prison walls become thicker every day

This testimony of the UK’s “hostile environment” comes from Sipho Sibanda, an activist and asylum seeker in Belfast.

Of the piece, she says “It came from frustration, seating in a house that’s meant to be a home, feeling lonely and missing the rest of your family and knowing there’s practically nothing you can do about it. And realising that your supposed refuge is nothing but a prison cell.”


The Hostile environment.

The name says it all. Hostile!

Dictionary check! Meanings, aggressive, militant, unsympathetic.

Sounds familiar, too familiar. These to me are not just words in vocabulary or dictionary. I live these words, they shape my life. My life has become a prison with no walls.

I smile because i have to keep sane, but my heart is so broken…so broken i doubt it can ever be mended. These same walls that are meant to provide refuge have become my invisible prison.

I live on an impossible budget, never ever in my previous life had i thought this could happen to me, me of all people? Why me? Because i thought i had Rights?? Felt entitled to HUMAN RIGHTS??

But i soon realised that there are NO HUMAN RIGHTS for people like me.

Not in my country and NOT IN THE UK either.

I have been reduced to a number, I am listed by a NASS number! What happened to my name? Suddenly i have lost my identity…of course i have lost my identity. I am a number, an asylum seeker. A burden to society. I thought i was bigger than this, i was going to demand my rights till somebody listened, then BREXIT! became a wake up call, meaning no more European Humanitarian jargon. Levels of protection for these “Rights” I’ve been chasing just dropped on the scale.

So in the meantime i continue being a number. My invisible prison walls become thicker every day.

I used to be just above the average student in any class, but i find myself battling through an access course! This is a level i passed without difficulty. I went to tertiary in my country and was good at what i did. I was productive. Now i write an essay of 2500 words with extreme difficulty. I volunteer to keep myself busy but some days are tougher than others and i find it hard to even breathe, how do i function? How do i help others yet i can’t even help myself? Is this really me? Feels like am watching my life, i could swear i am having some kind of out of body experience and somebody else is defiantly in control. When does this nightmare end? Will it ever end? Even if i wake up with some kind of status, do i even know what normal function is anymore? Is it possible that i am damaged beyond repair? Will i ever find my identity again? Will i ever find my true smile again? Will i ever find me again?

The environment surely is hostile on a soul that came to seek refuge, a soul that was seeking solace. It’s hostile enough to Destroy and Damage, even Deportation can’t fix this soul no more.

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