Farid’s Story, Refugee from Sudan

Farid’s Story, Refugee from Sudan

“The education was bad, there was war, and no one could live comfortably.” 

Farid* cannot remember a time in his childhood where life wasn’t difficult. Living in a small village which is now the political border between Sudan and South Sudan, conflict and violence were the norm.

“We had no rights in Lebanon. No one would listen. A lot of Sudanese people died in Lebanon and no one cared. We were just foreigners, treated like animals.”

In 2009, most of the young men in Farid’s farming village left the region to escape conflict. They traveled to the capital city of Khartoum to get their first passports. Farid flew to Egypt, then traveled to Syria. He walked from Damascus to the Lebanese border 12 hours through the night in the winter, with a group of other Sudanese seeking refuge. At the border, Sudanese friends received Farid and paid the bribe for him to enter the country. For the next eight years, he lived in an apartment with 6 other Sudanese men, avoiding those who would send them back to war in Sudan. 

In 2014, Farid’s friend told him about the United Nations. It was the first time that he learned about the concept of “universal human rights for all”. He was shocked that, even though his rights had been denied for his entire life, that other free countries of the world would defend his basic human rights for life, liberty and security. He had other friends who were registered as refugees, and he decided to register also.

One day Farid was eating with his friends at a Sudanese restaurant when authorities entered in a mass raid of undocumented foreigners. Farid and his friends were arrested, and Farid was in prison for two and a half months.

The manager of the prison saw that Farid had UN refugee papers, and called a UN representative. His case was presented to many embassies, and within 15 days Canada chose Farid and his wife, who he had met in Lebanon, to be sponsored and come to Canada. It was only one month later that they landed on Canadian soil. Shortly after, they moved into New Hope. When asked if they were afraid or nervous to come to Canada, Farid laughed: “We were not afraid, we were excited. We were leaving fear behind us.” 

Arriving in Canada has been challenging, especially learning English. But already Farid and his wife feel like Canada is home. “People treat each other well here. That is the nicest thing.” 

On June 13, 2019, Farid sat in a maternity waiting room in Surrey, British Columbia, watching news of violent protests in Sudan on a mobile phone. People continue to die from the war that he escaped. But on that same day, Farid held his newborn baby daughter in his arms, surrounded by new friends and New Hope staff. Together we have mourned the war in their country, but we also celebrate new life, and hope for a new future. 

*Names changed for privacy

Image from Nubian Image Archive, Alexandros Tsakos

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Mindy Kozloff
mindy@newhopecs.org
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