Wednesday, January 16, 2008

“My Painful Journey”

Jade Amoli Jackson fled Uganda seven years ago, after her husband was murdered and her children abducted by the military. Encouraged to write by the Medical Foundation’s “Write to Life” programme, she chronicled her experience in “My Painful Journey”. The story won a writing competition run by Decibel, and is included in as one of 16 true stories published in the 2007 Penguin Decibel anthology entitled, From There to Here, Volume 2: Personal Tales of Immigration to Britain. STAR went to talk to her about her writing and experiences.

Jade began writing as a way to help her deal with her experiences, “my doctor suggested that I start writing, she encouraged me to put down what I was feeling because I was feeling bad, she encouraged me to write whatever I was feeling, whatever I wanted… Sometimes I cried, and sometimes I laughed. At the beginning I laughed when I thought of the life we had, but then I cried.” Jade hopes that the publication of the book will encourage people to understand the situations of refugees and asylum seekers, “some people think that people come to the UK because we love the UK and because of the lifestyle, but most asylum seekers and refugees are forced to flee their country and the safest place we come to is the UK. I didn’t come voluntarily.” She wants people to listen to refugees, “Just listen to what they are saying, they are hurting, they are really hurting. It must be something really big to make a person run from their country. Listen to them and maybe help, listen and help”.

Jade has worked as a volunteer at the Refugee Council for the past two and a half years, something that she considers her greatest achievement since her arrival in the United Kingdom “They have given me my life back. I didn’t know there were caring people in the world to fight for refugees. I feel happy when I am here, where people don’t see me as a dirty person, they see me as a human being.” Jade is intensely grateful for the safety and reception that she has received in the UK, “I have met the most wonderful people, ever since I came. Even when I was sent to it was not so bad. The food was good and people looked after us, they took me to see a doctor. In Africa I used to be in and out of prison and I didn’t get that kind of reception. We didn’t get food, the guards used to take it. We slept on the floor. They would pour water on the floor and we would sleep on the wet floor. In Oakington we had beds When I got a letter addressed to Oakington Barracks I was shocked, I didn’t realise I was in prison”.

Despite the loss of her husband, children and country Jade has hopes for the future “I will write some more, but I am getting old, if I could work, work to pay my bills like a citizen, if I could show the British people that I am really grateful for what they have done, I would really love to do that”.

From There to Here is published by Penguin in paperback on November 29, priced at £8.99. To order a copy, visit Penguin or purchase it from the Refugee Council online shop

Posted by Russell Brooks on 16/01/2008 at 05:10 PM