Who am I? I ask myself the questions? For some of them, I am a brown fish who is on the wrong side of the river. I am not supposed to be here, birds are free to go anywhere, but I am not. I ask myself how on earth a human being can be illegal? I think no human being is illegal no matter where they are and where they want to go.
‘No human being is illegal’ I am against the labelling of all sorts and especially the mislabelling of immigrants in general.
The system calls people like me either asylum seekers, failed asylum seekers or refugees. I also do not like this. The prominent scholar Hannah Arendt, widely considered one of the most important political philosophers of the twentieth century said in her writing that “we do not like to be called refugees”.. and she said we call ourself “newcomers”. I am a newcomer. I would like to call myself that. I am new and fresh and a stranger, I want to be your friend, I am your neighbour.
As they call me I am an asylum seeker. I am a 28 year-old asylum seeker. I am originally from Bangladesh, but now I live in Newcastle, in the UK. I do not know where my home is. I live in a home office provided accommodation which is not the best place to live because this is not a home that I used to live in. My home back in my country Bangladesh was the best place, heaven on earth. It was not a palace but it was a peaceful place for us.
The coronavirus is horrible and difficult for all of us. But in my life coronavirus has been going on for years. Every day I wake up with the fear of the unknown that I could be detained and deported back to my country where my life wouldn’t be safe. In the UK where I am seeking safety and sanctuary, the system does not want me to be here, a hostile environment has added legitimacy to that, if not legally but socially the hate of asylum seekers is now normal. Where I suffered, cried, no one was there to give me a pat on my back and say it will be over one day. It was my mother who taught me to love and be kind even in the toughest time of life, even when I have nothing I have learned that I have to be kind and caring to my neighbour.
That’s why I started an initiative of a small food bank where I deliver food packs to people in need using my bicycle. Before the lockdown began I had started the initiative with a little food bank idea to help asylum seekers like me who are living on £5 pounds a day. £5 pounds a day with no right to work and no access to public funds. I started my food bank helping asylum seekers but day by day I found people in the wider community were also suffering. So far, I have given 125 food packs to different people, people who are elderly with health conditions, people going through chemotherapy, immigrant families, refugee families, individual refugees, asylum seeker families, individual asylum seekers and some international students. I’m also sharing updates and meal ideas on my YouTube channel.
It is not the desperation alone that taught me to be kind and loving and caring for others, it is not suffering alone that taught me the importance of caring for others, but it is the unconditional love and care of my mother that inspired me and her teaching to love and care for others that is my inspiration. In desperation, people do all sorts of things, but in distress, we always have a choice to be kind and loving and care for each other. Even in the dark and grim days, we have a choice to make, and I choose to be kind and caring.
About the Author:
Md Mominul Hamid is a human rights ambassador and community advocate who is campaigning for the rights of asylum seekers to access higher education. He is an asylum seeker himself, and has been recently dedicating his time to support other asylum seekers by setting up his own food bank, as well as handing out food parcels around his community on his bike. Md is now a Sanctuary Scholar at Northumbria University, where he is studying law.