Pierre’s story

Country of origin: Democratic Republic of Congo

Profession: Nurse

BBC News country profile: The recent history of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DR Congo) has been one of civil war and corruption. This vast country until recently has been at the centre of what some observers call ‘Africa’s world war’, which has claimed up to six million lives, either as a direct result of fighting or because of disease and malnutrition.

‘Back in my own country, the DRC, things were a mess. I was falsely accused of being involved in an assassination attempt on President Kabila. He’s been in power since 2001, and is really unpopular due to all the fighting and corruption going on – there have been lots of protests. I was imprisoned and was even ordered to kill fellow prisoners, but I finally managed to escape to England as an asylum seeker.

For the next four years, I got help from SWVG while my claim for asylum was being dealt with. But unfortunately it was unsuccessful, and I only just escaped being forcibly deported. I was held in a government detention centre but eventually released.

After that, I was able to re-join my fiancée, who by now was in England. SWVG helped organize our marriage and reception at St Michael’s Church in Southampton – it was a truly joyful day!

However, things were still very tough for me. I had no ‘leave to remain’ so still couldn’t claim benefits or work to support my new family. I decided to return to DR Congo to get hold of the papers I needed to allow me to find temporary work in the UK for up to two years.

I knew that would be a dangerous thing to do, but I was lucky! As it turned out, I was able to make the journey legally. I managed to get hold of the right papers and get back safely to the UK.

It’s been difficult, and at times I thought things would never work out. But with my wife’s and relatives’ encouragement, lots of practical help from SWVG, and the steady support of the late Michael Scott Joynt, Bishop of Winchester, it all turned out OK. Now I can watch my children grow up safely and happily.’

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