UNHCR, the office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, was aware of my situation and the health struggles my son was undergoing. But I did not want the police or secret police to know about our resettlement process.
Hatred toward Sierra Leoneans in The Gambia was part of the problem in going for interviews for resettlement. Fatou Barry, the UNHCR protection officer assigned to my case, was clever enough to have transferred our case to Dakar since we were going to Senegal’s capital, anyway, for Glen’s checkup. She made it possible for us to have our interviews there. The interviews were many and long.
Barry had secured our first interview date. We kept it secret. I called my family to attention to warn them strictly that whatever we were going through should be a family secret. Sometimes when my wife is over-happy she says stuff. I told them of examples of how some people could not go and were even killed because of the complications involved in resettlement. It was then sealed between us: Our only reason for going to Dakar was Glen’s checkup.
Barry had also arranged with Gambian Immigration to allow us a United Nations family laissez-passer [Editor’s note: like a temporary passport for humanitarian reasons] as refugees to go to Senegal for Glen’s checkup. It would last for only one trip, so we were supposed to be visiting them each time we wanted to travel. The immigration office knew my son had a very bad heart condition. They sympathized with me too. That was our exit point, Glen’s heart.
Our first trip was glorious!
Read Augustine’s latest installment, Challenging Resettlement Process Begins, or scroll down to follow his incredible journey from the start.