For each day of Refugee Week 2018, we will be sharing the stories of one of the five refugee and asylum-seeking women who were painted by the artist Caroline Walker in their accommodation for her latest series of paintings, ‘Home’, which was exhibited at Kettle’s Yard gallery in Cambridge.
Joy was granted refugee status in the UK after she was trafficked and abused. She lives in a council house in Hackney and enjoys being part of the local community.
“I came to the UK with my employer in 2009, they mistreated me and beat me. When they sent me out of the house I had to go to the police. My employer went back to Nigeria because the police wanted to arrest her. She took my passport and visa – she took everything.
My asylum application took three years. And then when I first got my refugee status I stayed in a hostel for over a year. Now I have a home of my own where I can stay and feel safe.
My home is the best place! The area is safe, it is near the town and is very beautiful. The people in my neighbourhood are very kind and they work together. I’m so happy I got a house here through the council. I have been here for two years now.
In my spare time I like to read a lot. I go and get the free newspapers from the tube station and read them every day. Sometimes I can’t move around too much because I had a head injury that still gives me pain. But I like to come out and socialise, to come and see people. I read the bible and pray every morning and night.
I go to English classes at Women for Refugee Women every Monday. I love it! I have learnt so many things about British culture and about writing. I meet new friends here and we all support each other.
I am so pleased to be involved in this project because I haven’t had any opportunity like this before. When people look at the paintings it will be amazing. They will think that I am a strong woman. Now, I am safe and in a good place.
I love the UK. I feel so appreciative to be here. British people have helped me, if not for them I would be dead, they saved my life. Every day I pray for this country, for God’s protection.”
Every week over 100 refugee and asylum-seeking women join our activities in London, if you’d like to support our work with women like Joy please donate here.