In recognition of World Refugee Day this year, we’re sharing the story of Princess*, a young woman from East Africa, who has been in Hong Kong for 8 years. The following is part two of her story, written in her own words. Read part one here.
Despite the anger, pain, and tragedy in my life until now, I know I am not my past. I am who I decide to become.
I am building up my life to become something. I am not over, my opportunity never ended. This is my life. I am constructing my own legacy into a power that I am proud of. I am constructing a home where I can live my life for me. I want to make it happen for myself. I will succeed, make progress, grow, and change towards a better future – a future with an improved ‘Me’, a future where I have power over my life.
Five years ago, if you asked me who I was, I would have said that I am nothing, I felt like nothing. Now I know who I am. The girl I was five years ago and the woman I am today are not the same; my face may be the same, but my heart is different.
Now, I know who I am. RUN helped me find that feeling. I love hiking and I love being on the trails. When I go hiking, I feel like I am not the person from my past. Without hiking, I would not have found my strength and my voice. My favourite day is Tuesday! I always look forward to Tuesday.
RUN welcomed us to join classes, but first they help us to open our mind and our heart. First, we get the help we need to get strong physically, mentally and emotionally, then we are able to learn something new. I know that I can learn anything, thanks to RUN.
Growing up, I was never told that I have rights. My mum never told me that I had rights – the right to be happy, the right to talk, the right to show people who I am, the right to have a voice. She was scared that if I said those things in public in my home country, people would kill me. Hearing from the RUN co-founders five years ago that I have rights changed my life. I had always been told that I was half a human, and less than other people because of who I was and where I was born, but they showed me that I am equal to anyone else. I will never forget that moment – it was like finding a safe place; it helped me find my freedom and my confidence. For the first time in my life, someone told me what my heart had wanted to hear my whole life. Now, when I come to the RUN office, I feel different, I feel like I am powerful.
Before I came to RUN, I never knew that women could have a voice. When I came to RUN, I met people who told me that women were powerful and I saw them treat women like they could do anything. I realised I could be a powerful woman, too, and that I have my own voice. Now, I have the power I once craved, the power I deserve. I know that every woman coming to the RUN office feels the same, that their life is changed.
The only family my sister and I have now are at RUN. I don’t see RUN as an organisation; I see RUN as my family, and when I leave Hong Kong one day, they will always still be my family. They are always there for me when I need them. When I feel the worst pain, they share my pain and help me to overcome it.
I will never forget finding my confidence at RUN. No matter how much my past has hurt, one day I will look back and realise it has changed my life for the better. When I think of my past, it is easy to go to a very dark place of pain and sorrow, but with RUN, I have the opportunity to overcome the pain I feel, and stay in a place of light. I want to grant myself the praise I deserve for working hard to rebuild my strength and my well-being. When I have the chance to get the help I need for my mind and my heart, I feel like I can fly. I am free.
* Name has been changed