When Haja fled to London, she had gone through years of trauma. Her political stance and work as a journalist meant the Sudanese Government targeted her and her family. She had to escape for their safety, leaving her home, friends, and family behind. Our Refugee Resettlement service helped Haja from the moment she stepped foot in the UK, giving her and her family a home and the support needed to build a life in London. 

"When I was 14, I was kidnapped on my way back from school by the Sudanese Government and raped. My father was the leader of a political party that opposed the Government at the time. This was their way of targeting him and my family. 

"We felt threatened and packed everything up and moved from place to place for safety."  

Despite her harrowing experiences, Haja, like her father, became vocal against the Government. 

"I went to the University of Khartoum and became more politically active. I spoke out against the Government's injustices towards women and other human rights issues." 

"After university, I trained as a journalist. Writing for the newspaper, I was constantly in and out of prison. I can't even count how many times the Government took me in."  

This continuous pressure forced Haja to stop working as a journalist and start teaching at the university. There, she met her ex-husband, a political activist himself, and had her four kids with him. It was a new life, but she wasn't doing what she loved. She started writing again but quickly realised that it was endangering her family.  

"My husband and I were kidnapped, and he was raped in front of me. He completely forgot who his family was after that. He said he wasn't a man, had no children, or hadn't had a wife. He was suffering from PTSD. It was just me and my children from then onwards."  

"Death threats were made against my family. It was an awful time. I hadn't thought about leaving Sudan before but knew I needed to go for my family's safety.” 

But deciding to leave was, in many ways, the easy bit for Haja, who had to overcome many hurdles to leave the country. 

"We didn't have passports or visas, and I needed approval from a male family member to travel out of Sudan as a woman. I got this from my cousinbut when I got to the airport, I was told I had been blacklisted from leaving the country." 

"I knew we still needed to leave somehow. We took a bus to Wadi Halfa, near the Egyptian border, and walked for 13 hours through the night. Our documents were checked, and we took a taxi straight to the United Nations." 

Haja was connected with several charities in Egypt, which gave her a place to stay and support. But despite leaving Sudan, the troubles Haja and her family faced followed them. For her own safety, Haja was offered safe travel to London, and she took it. 

Isobel and Marwa from Single Homeless Project’s Refugee Resettlement Team welcomed her and her children with open arms at Heathrow.  

"I had so many things going through my mind: 'What would happen to my children?', 'What is the UK like?', 'Will I be safe?' It was challenging physically, too: I was in a wheelchair after I was attacked and had my knee broken. It was a horrible time." 

"Isobel and Marwa were the first people I saw smile at me in a long time. They met me and my four children with a warm welcome. I'd forgotten what smiling looked like. Marwa spoke Arabic too and it made me feel at home, despite the snow."  

"They took us to our new house in Lambeth, which was beautiful and ready for us. I remember Isobel cooked us lamb. It was the first time I had had it since leaving Sudan. I couldn't have asked for anything more. I knew I had someone to look after my children and me, and we were finally safe." 

"After we settled, Isobel helped get two of my children to school with extra help as they didn't speak English. The younger ones were too little for school, so a tutor taught them at home. This was so important for their confidence. My kids are all at university now!" 

"I didn’t have a life when I arrived in the UK. I was a woman with four children on her own. I don’t know how I would’ve done it without Isobel. I call her my young mother. She is my family." 

With our help, Haja has built a new life for herself and her four children in a different country, and they are all thriving.

Haja is also keen to help others like her. Drawing from her experiences as a refugee in London, Haja is working on making a place where people from different backgrounds can meet and learn about each other's cultures, creating a café run by refugees. 

We're so proud of you, Haja!