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Swansea, a Home For All

Dr Tarh Martha Ako Mfortem is an experienced, multilingual educational psychologist. She has been published frequently as an academic specialist, and she is also an accomplished creative writer. Here she shares her thoughts on the life she has left behind in her native Cameroon, and the life she is now building for herself and her children in Swansea.

From the feet of the Cameroon mountains

To the slopes of the Welsh mountains

Journeying in trauma and stress

Fleeing life’s threatening experiences

Escaping persecution and rights violations

Seeking for refuge, safety and life

With forcefully sealed lips and heavy steps

I trod on sinking sands

Away from the scares of torture and marginalisation

Yearning for peace, hope and a future

Clad with tales of trafficking and xenophobia

Racism, discrimination and bias

Away from all forms of violence and evil traditional practices

Feeling sealed to speak of female circumcision, of breast ironing

Maltreatment of widows and orphans

Early and forced marriages, child rape

No girl education, no female inheritance

Gender inequality and bias, evil rites of passage

Fear of reporting adult abuses, non-questioning of elders

Widow and orphans disinheritance

Child slavery, sexual violence and exploitation

Disease, political unrest, poverty, armed conflicts and corruption

When all support networks are lost to violence

Communities, friends, relatives get detached

Death feels so close and hell so loose

Never had I felt my life on a line

As in my role as feminist and activist

Gunshots became music and morgues the busiest

Streets were littered with bullets of all sizes

Every day was a struggle as tomorrow was not guaranteed

The cells were crowded, the prisons were full

The innocent were labelled and tortured to death

Not even a meal was sure, as bullets roamed the skies

There was no safe place to hide, not even the church

Lives were meaningless and the future so bleak

No one dares to criticise or speak of these atrocities

Babies were raped and shot, wives and husbands tortured

No school was safe, no life secured

No sermons were heard, as heaven was far

Headless bodies litter the street, abandoned corpses rot in bushes

Mass graves were a normalcy, and human heads were seen on streets

News of missing persons was the order of the day

As people suffered in the land of my ancestors

The pain was enormous and escape, the obvious

My heart was bleeding but my lips were sealed

I wept for the vulnerable, the women and children

Today, I stand on peaceful soil with a heavy heart

Today, I speak without mourning or trembling

On this rostrum, I feel my healing

As I speak of my pains and roll my tape of life

In pain I regain my lost treasures

In this land of freedom which I call my home

In Swansea, I found love, warmth, peace, hope and a future

A place of complete healing and sanctuary for the hopeless

An opportunity to rebuild my life, showcase my skills, strengths and weaknesses, and even greater opportunities for development

A platform to speak against societal ills

A voice to cry against wars, persecution and oppression

Swansea is a haven that welcomes our diversities and flexibilities

Its rich touristic attractions and cultural diversities are emblematic

An open access to food, educational opportunities and standard healthcare

This explains the increase in asylum seekers daily

As it fosters the integration of diverse cultures

Swansea gives us a sense of belonging, future, vision and growth

Like Oliver Twist, we must ask for more openings

For Swansea to be fully our home as refugees

We plead for cultural diversity in all government sectors

A full refugee involvement in economic, social, political programmes and policy meetings

We plead for a considerate transfer of asylum seekers with children of school-going ages – no mid-year transfers

Asylum seekers wish to work, pay taxes and help the community

This is better than a £40 payment a week

Give us an opportunity to showcase our talents and skills

Asylum seekers have a rich repertoire of knowledge

Nevertheless, we have our own challenges in Swansea

Bus fares are very expensive for us

Our children pay bus fares to school, and that leaves us little to feed them of for outings

We cannot afford to eat out or visit tourist sites as a family

We need to save for months to buy shoes or clothes from charity shops, since we cannot afford new clothes

Getting an appointment to see a GP is very challenging and costly

Schools ask for little money for events, and children’s outdoor activities

Which we shamefully cannot afford most times

Thank you, Swansea for opening your doors to us

Doors that know no race, sex, colour, colour, culture or tribe

Thank you, Swansea

Dr Tarh Martha Ako Mfortem



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