Kenya

“My life has been very hard”: Suleiman’s journey to resilience

Suleiman was only a child when his mother fled the country without him, and his father was killed. Through counselling sessions with DRC, he has learnt to manage his increasing anxiety, and today, he is able to support himself while also offering support and encouragement to fellow refugees.

When war erupted in Mogadishu in 2008, Suleiman’s* mother fled the country, and he was left under the care of his father. His father was a shopkeeper, and life was tough for them.

In 2010, while Suleiman was attending school, his father’s shop was raided and burnt down. His father was killed by unidentified people.

“When I was told what happened, I started to cry and asked why they did so, but no one answered me. I was totally devastated,” says Suleiman.

“You feel alone, and people don’t care about you.”

During the incident, one of his father’s friends took Suleiman, and together they fled the city. After three days, they arrived at the Mandera border in Kenya and took another bus to Nairobi, Kenya, in search of a new life.

“My life has been very hard. The worst part is that I am a refugee because no one cares about us. You feel like the world has forgotten about you and that you are alone. You need supplies, you need education, but it does not come by,” he says.

“You feel alone, and people don’t care about you.”

When Suleiman first came to DRC, he had no income to support him, and his future seemed bleak. He started attending counselling sessions to manage his increasing anxiety.

As he went through the sessions, he found new coping mechanisms to alleviate his anxiety. He chose to focus on things he could control, and this boosted his mood. He started focusing on the resources around him and stopped worrying about his unknown future. 

Suleiman managed to secure a job at a local barbershop. His mindset changed completely, and he began to make a living for himself.

Overcoming the odds

In April 2021, he was contacted by one of the leading production companies offering him a job as voice narrator for a 12-episode Somali movie. They offered him a 3-month contract, earning almost ten times more than he made in the barbershop.

Suleiman’s greatest challenge remains the lack of proper documentation as the Kenyan Refugee Affairs Secretariat (RAS) offices remain closed due to the continued Covid-19 pandemic. This has affected his ability to be employed full time by an employer due to the documentation requirements by most companies.

Despite these setbacks, he is happy that his life has turned out better. He has also supported fellow refugees in the country by donating food and visiting them, offering words of encouragement.

“Through the counselling sessions, DRC made me realise the power of positive thinking,” he says.

In the future, Suleiman hopes to become a humanitarian worker and change the lives of refugee children by helping them recognise their potential - just as he was helped to realise his true potential.

*Name changed to protect his identity.

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