Just after Christmas we received a heart-warming letter from a young girl called Osa*, who was writing to thank the Centre for the presents she and her family had received at Christmas. Her sweet and eloquent words were particularly moving given the recent struggles she and her family had been through.
Osa is just ten years old. In her short life she has already lived through periods of abject poverty and destitution. Yet in spite of this she is a bright and intelligent young girl who is excited to have been accepted into an all-girls grammar school, starting in September. Her academic achievements are testament to how hard her mother has worked to make a better life for her and her siblings. Osa's mother, Efe, first came to the Cardinal Hume Centre for immigration advice in 2013. She was completely on her own, with four children, nowhere to live and no money. Her husband had left her, and as a result Efe and her children became subjected to significant hardship. I kept telling my children that everything was going to be fine, she recalls, I didn't want them to see that I was down or worried. Efe was determined to shelter her children from the reality of their situation:
Given the stress and duress Efe's been under I admire her very much as a parent, says Margaret, She's done a fantastic job with her children. They have been through a very stressful time, and yet the children have continued to succeed at school, they continue to remain happy, and I just think she's an extremely strong woman, given all the adversity she's up against. Margaret Crowley is the immigration worker who helped Efe and her family. Margaret helped Efe to get a roof over her head, bus passes for the children so they could get to school, food for them and clothes and most importantly she helped them with their immigration cases. After two years of hard work on behalf of Efe Margaret was able to secure leave to remain for her and her children, and she helped the eldest, Osa, to apply for her British citizenship.
Margaret, she's an angel. There are no other words to describe her. She really tried for me, says Efe. Having leave to remain, it's like I'm dreaming. I'm so happy and grateful to God and to everyone. I can't even compare the life I had before to the life I have now. I couldn't do anything. I couldn't even open a bank account or go to the hospital. Now I can go anywhere I want to go. With Margaret's help Efe has been able to get her families lives on a stable footing and the support she received has meant that their lives have changed drastically.
I am writing on behalf of my family to thank the wonderful Cardinal Hume Centre, especially Margaret, for your priceless help not only this Christmas but throughout the year. Osa and her brothers have bright future's ahead of them now, thanks to their mother's perseverance and determination. And thanks to the generosity of the Centre's supporters Efe's children had a very special Christmas this year:
Firstly, we would like to thank you for our delightful Christmas presents. I was overjoyed with my pottery set, Aamil was so pleased with his watch, Maheer's imagination was inspired with his Lego set and Yasir has been feeding his teddy in every meal. Not only do we wish to thank you for our gifts but for helping us through our struggle. Words are not enough to express our profound gratitude. *The names in this story have been changed to protect the identities of those mentioned