Patient stories from our refugees and asylum seekers eye health events
Milo and Uno's story
Father and son, Milo and Uno attended on the first day.
Uno had glasses several years ago but lost them journeying from Namibia to UK. He only has vision in one eye as a result of a hit and run accident when he was 12, which left him with neurological damage and an injured leg.
He is starting school in September and wants to be able to see well and learn lots! When asked what he likes to do and if the glasses would help, he said “I love playing chess, I’m not sure if the glasses will help but I can hope!” whilst laughing.
Martin has been travelling for two years and had only been in the UK for 29 days when he attended the clinic. At just 18 years old, he has two siblings and doesn’t know where they are, as he journeyed here alone.
He’s had quite the journey, from South Sudan to Libya to Tunis to Algeria then back to Libya again then to Italy. His boat sank when leaving Libya and had to swim four hours back to shore. When he finally arrived in Ventimiglia he walked to Nice, normally 25 miles and about 40 minutes by road, but Martin walked across countryside, over the mountains, and along the railways when the trains didn’t run. It took him 19 hours.
Martin was one of the first patients seen at the event and he returned every day as a volunteer to help with translation and keep the team amused. At 6 ft 6 ichs he was quick with the jokes aimed at some of our shorter team members.
He wants to study but is only allowed to join a basic ESOL class due to his asylum seeker status.
He was grateful for the sunglasses to protect his eyes, the opportunity to help, and the support and encouragement we gave him. He is an inspirational, charismatic young man whose positivity touched hearts in a big way!
A chauffer in Palestine, Helal had journeyed from Gaza to Greece then Belgium, France and then finally the UK.
Imprisoned in Palestine, he was exiled on release, leaving his wife and four children there. He has never met his youngest son, as he was imprisoned when his wife was still pregnant. He hopes to be able to work soon and start the process of moving his family to the UK.
Janet’s smile lit up the room the minute she walked in. She left Togo 20 years ago, but still has not been granted permanent asylum in the UK.
She was emotional as she shared about her journey, and her deep sadness about never being able to return home, where her deceased son is laid to rest.
We were happy to bring her some joy with new distance and reading glasses to help her manage her presbyopia.
Elhadi is an Asylum Link volunteer and was a great support with translation at the event. He is an asylum seeker himself, so is unable to work in the UK.
In his native Sudan, he was a human rights activist, supporting people in Darfur and looking after Serbian refugees. “I just wanted to help and support these people,” he said gesturing to the other patients. He was 42 and had only been in the UK for 45 days.
Elhadi initially didn’t want a sight test as he lost his last pair and wanted us to help those more in need. A truly kind and selfless person.