Rocky, 20, became a refugee when he was just 3 years old after his family fled the Democratic Republic of Congo. He grew up in neighbouring Burundi, and spent five years living in a refugee camp before being resettled to Hull in February 2016. Here, Rocky shares his story.
When I first arrived in the UK, I couldn’t believe how cold it was.
Burundi’s very hot and the refugee camp was always very dusty – the ground was red and you couldn’t go outside without getting covered dust. Arriving in Britain in winter was very strange and I didn’t have the right clothes; there isn’t a jacket in all of Africa that’d protect you against the cold here!
I was resettled along with my grandparents, my aunt and my cousin. I don’t have my parents unfortunately. My dad’s dead and my mum died when she was giving birth; she gave me life but she died. I live for her now.
Before being resettled, my grandparents, extended family and I had been living in a refugee camp for five years. Before that we’d been living in the capital city; but it’d become very dangerous for my grandpa there, so we had to move to the camp so we could be under the protection of the UN’s Refugee Agency (UNHCR). It was still very dangerous in the camp though; you couldn’t go out at night. Life was very hard.
When we were resettled, it was my first time on a plane; when I took off it was very frightening but I got used to it eventually.
I remember when we finally arrived in Britain: staff from the Refugee Council met us at the airport and helped us find out bags. They took us first to the Refugee Council office where we had some food and then later we went on to our new house.
We were so happy because the house was so modern; it had electricity and gas and comfortable beds. In the refugee camp the beds had been made from trees and we’d had to use wood to cook.
My favourite thing about the UK is the security: I feel very safe – like I can sleep outside in the back garden and be OK. You couldn’t have done that in the refugee camp, it was just too dangerous.
I feel very hopeful about the future; here you can be anything you want to be; there are so many opportunities.
Right now I’m in college studying English and Maths. After that, I want to go onto university and study to become a nurse. It’s been my ambition since I was a child; because I want to be able to look after my grandparents. They’re getting older now, and they’ve looked after me my whole life. Hopefully now I’ll be able to look after them.