Chenzira’s Story

Chenzira web
Chenzira spent several years escaping Africa

Chenzira fled political persecution in Zimbabwe in 2005. After three years, he finally reached the UK where he was able to apply for asylum. He was then given accommodation in Glasgow under dispersal. He was granted refugee status in 2009, is currently studying for a social care qualification and hopes to bring his family to safety in the UK.

“I was a teacher in Zimbabwe, and then I went onto work for a charity that the regime did not approve of. I was persecuted and targeted because of the work I did there, and I had to flee or else I’d have been killed. 

I just took a chance. It’s better to take a chance than wait until they come and kill you

It was a difficult and frustrating journey – I had to make it without knowing where I was going or where to get help. I just took a chance. It’s better to take a chance than wait until they come and kill you.

Most of the time I walked to avoid roadblocks and sometimes I’d take a bus. Then I had to cross the border – that’s one of the hardest parts, it’s very risky. I moved from the border village to the city, from where I knew I’d be able to leave Africa altogether. I had to get out of Africa, because no matter which African country I’m in I don’t trust [the authorities] because of their relationship with Zimbabwe.

A turning point

The second journey, the journey to Europe, was the most important one for me – that’s when I escaped death. Leaving Africa was like a turning point in my life. But during the journey you become a victim again, because you must rely on agents to get you out.

They tell you lies about Europe, which is like a second abuse. Agents can help you but on their conditions. You’re thinking these are the people who can help me but you can’t trust them. It’s not our choice to go to the UK or France or Holland – it’s for the agents, because they are making the money.

I stayed at the bus station for two nights, sleeping under a bridge, with no money, no food

I arrived in England first. I was just dropped in a bus station somewhere. I didn’t trust the authorities. How could I? So I stayed at the bus station for two nights, sleeping under a bridge, with no money, no food.

The second day I approached people going into Tesco. Then I met two ladies at the bus station who shared their food with me. They gave me help and  introduced me to a family. I said I would go to the authorities but when I was ready.

I stayed with them for a couple of weeks, they took me to a second hand shop and bought me clothes. After some time they introduced me to the local authorities.

Hundreds of questions

At the time I had no idea what the asylum system was, or what they [the Home Office officials] would ask me. It makes you very uncomfortable having to talk about your circumstances over and over again – because it’s like what they do to you in my home country. The Home Office expected me to be able to tell me story in one day but how could I do that? 

I was asked if I planned to come to the UK. But you can’t plan for this. Escape – that’s the driving force. Some people think we abuse the system. We are just seeking help. It hurts that people think you’re lying.

Some people think we abuse the system. We are just seeking help. It hurts that people think you’re lying

When I got status I knew I was given my life back. I’m free. If I need help, there are people who can help me, but that’s for me to decide. I know what I want, and I know what I’m capable of.

Yes, I’m looking forward to my life very much. I’ve lost a lot of time, I’m not trying to regain everything I lost. My journey is still going on.”