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.