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December 14, 2014

For the first time in my nearly 60 years, I feel safe. After decades of violence, persecution, and death threats, I had almost given up.

Now, because of you, I know that I have the tools to build a home.

The violence started when I was 6 years old in my parent’s kitchen in Sudan. My aunt and grandmother restrained me so that a midwife could use a kitchen knife to perform female genital mutilation. I screamed for them to stop, believing I would die.

As a teenager, I advocated for democracy and became active in women’s organizations that supported democratic values. I married a fellow political activist and, together, we moved to a Middle Eastern country where he sought political refuge.

When my father fell gravely ill, I went back to Sudan to see him one last time. I didn’t make it past the airport. I was held for five days in a “ghost house” and denied food, sexually assaulted, beaten, and threatened with death because of my democratic political views.

The beatings I endured from rifle butts are now permanent scars on my legs and backside. After paying a hefty bribe, I reunited with my husband in the Middle East.

Years later, when I went to visit my daughter in America, my husband called to warn me not to return to the Middle East because my name was on a Sudanese government’s blacklist and militants were looking for me. One month later, I applied for asylum in the U.S. I received a notice to appear in immigration court, but when I arrived, neither my case file nor my record could be located.

I struggled for 10 years to resolve my asylum case. It was through finding Tahirih that I was able to learn that although I had received a court notice, my case files were never physically transferred to immigration court. Tahirih affirmatively opened a new asylum case for me, which was granted soon after.

I had lost hope for a better future. I had lost faith in all humanity as my pain went unnoticed, and my life meant nothing to most. It was only when I came to Tahirih that I slowly started to gain a renewed spirit of hope.

What gift is more powerful than the gift of hope? I want to say thank you, to all of Tahirih’s supporters, for giving me the gift of hope.

Names may have been changed to protect client privacy and safety. Photo may not depict actual client.

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