By Safieh Eskandari
Refugee people go on their journey for different reasons. They are from Asia, Africa, Middle East, East Europe with variety of issues same as war, economics, politics, culture, religious and discrimination about sex, gender, racism and human right matters. However, as a refugee, many are afraid to talk about their experiences and the reasons why they are running away or leaving their home country.
In this interview, we talk to Sara, a mum, and one of thousands of refugees who lives with her family in Manchester.
I spoke with her husband as Sara’s English is not so good, and mentioned why the interview might be good story for other mothers, and that English people will know more about a refugee’s life. When I explained more, she said any time you can come to my home and I will speak with you, fortunately we had good chat.
It was on Monday evening I met Sara in her house with kids, her husband was not at home so the mother of four kids was giving food to the smallest child. I offered to her if you are busy I can manage it next time but she said that is alright. The atmosphere was warm; I met a happy family with beautiful girls with clever and happy eyes. During the interview, a funny thing happened; when I asked a question about breastfeeding, the smallest child sat next to me and touch my breast and said some word which I could not understand. I was confused at that time; her mother called her and said she wants to be fed! Then I just laughed and Sara too! She added it has been one month I stopped her feeding as I am pregnant also she used feed more than 1 year.
Sara is from Eritrea and is 32. She has 4 children- all girls- and she is 6 months pregnant too. I asked her if she wants to know the gender of number 5.
“I do not want to know” she says, “I want it to be a surprise.”
Sara has been live in the UK almost 5 years, she says: “When my husband got refugee status, he invited my daughter and me to the UK.
When I asked about reasons why they left their country? She mentioned “The life in Eritrea is totally different but most important reason is the politic reason”
She explained further: “My husband did not have safety there and people afraid say about their idea so the life is not easy.
“We chose the UK because of important reasons such as freedom, free healthcare, education, and children’s benefit.
I asked her to talk about her experience of pregnancy and childbirth in two different countries as I know her first child was born in Eritrea and the others kids were born in the UK, and I wondered how it was for her.
“In Eritrea, NHS system is different from here” Sara says, “The midwife and nurses never came to our house and women do not have the same support as here.
“In the UK midwife regularly check the mother and baby also when child born they have benefit and that is valuable.”
Sara as a member of refugee family is happy about living in this country.
“There is not any problem in the place I live, also I have good neighbours.”
I queried about feeding the babies, as I was curious whether she bottle or breast fed and how she managed with four children.
“Of course I breastfed for all my girls” Sara said “because I believe the breastfeeding has a lot of benefit, has warm relationship between mother and child even in the future, less illness, child safety and they are stranger other children.
She breast fed for an average of 6 months till one year and half, she said “I really enjoyed that as it gives a good feeling; kind and warm when you hugged the baby in your arm absolutely is fine. As well as has benefit for mother does not need to prepare the bottle and it is easy anytime and anywhere just you need you breast”.
While I was asking my questions about breastfeeding a funny thing happened; the smallest child sat next to me and touched my breast and said some word which I could not understand. I was confused at that time; her mother called her and said she wants to be fed! Then I just laughed and Sara too!
She added: “It has been one month I stopped her feeding as I am pregnant, she was breastfed for over a year!”
My last question was about any problem of her pregnancy in the UK, She says “In Eritrea weather and food are natural, and homegrown but here is different, first time when I became pregnant in my country I could eat food.
“But here during my pregnancies, I do not eat enough. I think the main reason is the weather, however when I gave birth to my children I just started to eat!”
The last goal for Sara is after her kids growing up she will improve her English and hopefully going to university to study medicine.
- If you are a refugee or Asylum seeker coming to the UK, you can visit the Refugee Council, Refugee Action or the British Red Cross.
*Sara’s name has been changed.