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You Are Free

I came here from Afghanistan in 2015, when I was 16, and until 2022, I was waiting for my asylum case decision for many years. I couldn't even work. I couldn't do anything, no study, nothing. I went to so many interviews, you know, with the home office, court, it just gets… I was worried, always, my asylum case was just going in circles, and they refused me few times until last year 2022. Then they finally accepted and gave me status because of what was going on in my country Afghanistan as so many people were taken to the UK. Now, I'm just feel relaxed. I can work, I can build my life for the future, and it's much better. The main thing that changed is my thoughts, you know? You feel depressed when you are waiting for something important in your life, especially when you can't work. I waited eight years. Then when you get this positive decision about your immigration case, you feel relaxed inside your body, your heart, your brain, everything felt so good! It's like you are inside the jail and you have been released. You are free, that's how I felt when I received my status.

Now, I can get a nice job, I can study, I can buy stuff, anything I want. And I can go on holiday, I want to see the world, a different environment, and different cultures. Before I was just stuck here in Oxford for few years. I really wanted to study but I couldn't because of my situation and now I just want to start my journey in this life. There’re few things in my mind which I want to do, I'm going to choose something that I'm interested in doing and I can make money as well in the future. I’m thinking about becoming a plumber, a qualified electrician or gas inspector, things that are kind of working with your hands. I do a part-time job at the moment, in a café in Marston, Oxford. My friends work with me, and we have good time. I do delivery as well, everywhere around Oxford.

I would like to become a taxi driver soon. If you've lived in many places in Oxford, It’ll be a bit easy for to pass the driving test – when I came here to Oxford, I lived in Blackbird Leys, then I moved to Summertown, After that to Botley Road, all around Oxford. Plumbers and taxi drivers, I think they're always needed whenever you’re in the UK.

I have my own flat in Barton now, I have got it from Soha under their Direct Match Let project, I have a living room, one bedroom, kitchen, toilet, storage. And there's a nice park outside my living room window as I live on the ground floor. My flat is fully furnished now, likes my own home country’s style. We sit on the floor. When I got the flat and because I was under 25, I received £3,000 from the council under the fund called “Unoccupied Young People Settlement Programme”, so I bought new stuff for my flat to make it looks like a home in Afghanistan. Compared to when I lived before in a shared house with housemates, you must share everything with them. Sometimes you'd like something to be in a certain way, and your housemate would like it in a different way, so it doesn't work out all the time. Living alone you can make it your own place. The neighbours here in Barton are so nice, they don't make noises! They are families, they have kids. When I see them, they say ‘Hello, hi!’, we talk. No drugs or alcohol. I don't see neighbours running many parties, you know, It’s calm area. And the place is quite open and green outside my living room window, it's so nice to live in my own flat.

Now I live alone I can bring food and cook whatever I like, when sharing a house with other people you know it’s never the same. I cook, not every day, but like two, three days a week. Different food from around the world but mostly the way we cook back home. When you eat your traditional food from your country, it makes you feel good. Lamb with rice and salad and yogurt. I cook for myself, for my friends. I have so many friends, like more than 50 friends, from Afghanistan, Kurdistan, from England, from Pakistan, from Europe, from everywhere, from all over the world. I have friends from school, from college, and from cricket club.

I play cricket for East Oxford Team. It's so nice, it's exercise , and mind-refreshing too, and you see different people, you make different friends. I’m both a bowler and a batter. I'm not good like an international player, but I am good! My favourite is T20, where you play 20 overs, I only watch 50 overs when it's World Cup. It takes a long time, all day you need to watch. We play one match a week on Saturday in the summer, and we meet people from different cities every week. We play in Didcot, Brackley, we play in Oxford. We always have matches in the countryside. So, you see different places. So beautiful. Our club are in division two, then there’s division one and then we play county. So hopefully we go up this year – if we win this season, two teams will go to division one, when you win division one, you play with county, and then you get paid as well. And in county, you play with international people, from England, from India, different countries, so you get a chance to play with them. So that's hopefully going to be in the next one or two years.

I think Oxford is such a nice place to live in, the people and the city itself. When I first came to UK, they brought me to Oxford, and since that time, I've been living here. I visit my brothers in Birmingham. They visit me, I visit them, but I go there more because they're older. In my country, younger people need to respect older people. So, if they come to you once, I go to them twice. When I visit them, I can't stay there long, I want to come back to Oxford. Maybe just because I’m used to it. The people are nice in Oxford, so respectful, educated, and there’s less crime than other cities in the UK, and better services here, I think. Even with my asylum case, there are so many people who helped me a lot. Helena, at Asylum Welcome. And my key workers, you know, social workers, and my friends as well. My case worker Roushin from Connection Support helped me for the past two years, she helped me with everything – with my immigration case and housing me for two years, and when I moved to my flat in Barton, she and Fatima did everything for me. When you do something for the first time you don't know what you're doing. They put all bills under my name, helped me with the council. When I get stuck with something, I ask them. They’re very good. Connection Support, their responsibility was to help me while I was waiting on my decision on my immigration case, and until now they’re still helping me, especially Fatima. I think she's honest and truthful. She helped me with so many things.

Connection Support have always, always helped me. With money, stuff for the house, they helped me with most important things that we need in our lives which is having a place to sleep at. The main thing, I was worried about my asylum case all the time. I used to get depressed a lot because of that and thinking what's going to happen to me if my asylum claim gets refused again. I was just stuck in that time, you know, I couldn't work, I couldn't do so many things. When I got my status, I didn't need that intensive support. I said to myself that I'll handle everything, and I’ll sort it out. I might need help in the future. It's sorted out now, and my house is sorted out as well, I’ve got my driving licence, I have a job. At the moment it's alright, the main things have been sorted out, so for the small things I don't need support moving forward. Now I can work, I can do whatever other normal people can do, I'm young, so I need to build my life. Connection Support don't need to worry about me anymore.

How much God likes me, I'm just trying to live my life, and to have a nice job, you know, to make money, to have a family, a wife, children. I like to pray and read Quran. When I was young, I didn’t really care much about studying the Quran, but I couldn’t understand it and I couldn’t focus on it, I just wanted to play and have fun. But once you become a man and start to read Quran seriously, then it helps you in this life, it makes you better person, It gives you discipline about what can you do and can’t. But also prepare you for the next life because you believe in God. You know, I love all people. When you go to the mosque, you see different people, different skin colours, from different countries. You just feel brotherhood, you know? Even if you don't know someone, even if you have never seen him, you just feel like his is your brother.

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