“For a refugee, life is kind of like a lockdown all the time”

Adilia – one of our members – shares with us her experience of life in lockdown and how our Community Programme and Activities are helping her stay busy.

“Lockdown is not easy – it is really challenging. For me, lockdown is bringing up a couple of things: I don’t know what’s happening. But the most important thing is feeling afraid. I’m worried about going outside, and I’m really stressed thinking about my family. I think the worst might happen to them – and the worst part is thinking that I can’t do anything. I can call them but I can’t be with them. And there’s a big problem in Nicaragua (where  I am from) because the government is not taking coronavirus seriously.  And if the virus gets me, if I get sick – I’m alone. So it’s really challenging, all of this. 

At the beginning of lockdown, I was more cheerful and more focussed. As an asylum seeker, I realised that this is not my worst time in life. Because you know, for a refugee, life is kind of like a lockdown all the time. We can’t really do anything, we can’t go places, we don’t work. So it’s not so different to that. 

But at the beginning I thought that I have lots of time to study and to improve my English. I thought I would be doing lots of different things. But with time, I feel like I have been losing strength, and it has become more challenging. In the last one or two weeks, my sleep patterns have been changing. But I don’t feel alone because I think a lot of people are going through that. And that’s my key to handle it – to remember that I’m not alone. 

Now the thing that helps is that I have activities to go to. It keeps me motivated. Like, “I have this appointment, and it’s really important”. I like going to the meetings with Migrants Organise. Sometimes I struggle a little bit, and last week I didn’t go to two classes, but when I receive a text from Migrants Organise saying that an activity is happening, then I’m like “Yay”. 

I’m in two groups: the women’s group, and a writing and reading group. I also participate in another one on Fridays which is a meditation class, to help us be ‘stress free’. I didn’t go this week, but it’s nice because one of my struggles is in meditation and in exercise. In the classes, we do training and strength exercises. It’s cool and it feels nice. In the last class it was only me – it was like a private class! 

The women’s group is really amazing – every woman is special in her own way. All the groups are helping me a lot. All the groups are in touch with me, and we can talk about what life is like on a daily basis. Today, in the women’s group, we talked about “how are you, how are you feeling, do you need anything” – that kind of stuff. In all the groups, they ask me if I need anything – they are very supportive. One time we did Zumba or aerobics together – it was really funny.

I also really like the reading group because when I have a lot of free time, I start to feel that I’m losing my mind and my capacity to think, and it’s very nice to go to the meetings. We wrote a poem in the first session – the teacher explained to us a particular kind of poem, and we made one. It’s really inspirational to feel that you can write a poem, and to read, and to listen to all the other poems – it’s so interesting. I like that group. And now, we are trying to write a short story. The teacher explained to us the different parts and the different steps to write a short story. We even created our characters. I need to do my homework for the meeting next week!

With the woman’s group, I’m able to receive a weekly package – the Dare to Care packages. They are really nice. They sent me a food package, and then they sent me another food and care package for the whole house. Every time, they send things like brown rice and pasta sauces, but sometimes they change some items, and this time we got yoghurt and fruit and veggies! That’s great, because when I’m scrolling on the internet when I can’t sleep, I look at what I want to cook. I like cooking – and I like to eat! So the packages are very helpful – thank you. 

I want to say thank you to Migrants Organise, because you’re doing very beautiful work and you help a lot of people. It’s been so supportive. I was feeling lost, and you helped a lot. Sometimes in the meetings I see another person, another refugee, struggling with stress or food or pain, and you always help. You are very important to us. When we are struggling and we receive a call, then you know that people really care. You are like my family now.”

To find out more about our Community Programme and online activities, contact Francesca at francesca@migrantsorganise.org.