Jonah Jane Beddall writes:
I met Ayshah in 2012 through a friend who works in the charity where I volunteer. It was a lovely day for a day-out trip for women. I spend some of my time in befriending women who have either just arrived in the country or are fairly new in the UK or are still waiting for their papers to be granted. I feel privileged to work with this charity since they help asylum seekers get integrated into the community, get to know people around them and help them with advice about their asylum claim. Basically, what I do is being with these ladies and, in this particular case, I am a befriender to Ayshah, who is from West Africa.
That day, we spent time in a garden centre where you can see beautiful flowers and plants from different parts of the world. This includes different herbs and many other things. I could see the light on Ayshah’s face as she looked at these pretty flowers and she got excited when she spotted a particular plant from her country. I felt very happy that, even in the midst of difficulties, she taught me how to appreciate the good things in life, particularly the beauty of creation around her. Ayshah loved to take photos too, of almost everything, and her jolly attitude brought joy to those around her. I can say there is never a dull moment when she is around.
One of the characteristics that I most admire about Ayshah is her faith in God. I know for a fact that sometimes when we go out for a cup of coffee or tea in town, she would share to me how her life here in UK can be very difficult. Having no job and relying on different charities for food and clothing can be really quite hard. And more so, being away from her family seems at times unbearable to swallow. She said to me once in our conversation that she is losing hope and it seems like there is no solution to her case and life seems not to progress the way she wanted to. Hearing this, I too feel sad and angry for the injustice that our present society has especially for vulnerable people like Ayshah. From personal experience, I know what it’s like to go through preparing all the documents to present in applying for a visa and the amount of money that you have to pay every time you apply. It is a hassle to go through this even for those who can afford, barely afford or not at all.
Hearing Ayshah’s story of her life and how she is surviving and thriving to have a better life made me realise that no matter what life presents us, we can deal with it, though hard and difficult, but with the love and care of God in our lives. Ayshah’s laughter, positive attitude and faith makes all the difference. I thank Ayshah for her life and the wisdom that she has shared with me. I feel so blessed to journey and accompany her, and she is so kind to me.
And now you might wonder and ask where she is now? Well, we got good news, vindicating trust in the Lord. Ayshah finally got refugee status! Now, its time to celebrate! We shall forever proclaim how God is faithful to His promises.
Jonah Jane Beddall is coordinator of the Columban Lay Missionary Programme and is based in Birmingham.