Melrose, Robert, Lawrence and Ailsa went to Unity in Diversity Swansea (UID) on Thursday 26th January to participate in a memorial for Mohammed Abdurezek (Mo) who was so tragically murdered in Bristol around Christmas time. We took with us messages from Sean and Margaret who were both unable to attend and also delivered over 40 pairs of football boots that Steve had obtained from a Ross on Wye football club.
We were very pleased and proud to have been asked to help with reading out the various tributes that had been sent in including a number of lovely tributes from the Hub and Conversation Group in Newcastle, where Mo had lived for a number of years. They told us of their affection and shock at his untimely death and about his sense of humour, his love for his mother, enjoyment of the countryside and love of sport. Wayne had prepared a powerpoint slide show that ran throughout the early part of the evening showing us photos of Mo and photos of his home town. Included was the photo of Mo with Talgarth football Club after they had made him a team member once he’d run onto the pitch because he wanted to play!
It was lovely that so many people attended including many of the volunteers from Swansea Bay Asylum seekers Support Group (SBASSG) who also helped with tributes and we were privileged to hear from N who lived with Mo in Swansea. He spoke about the sorrow of leaving one’s home and loved ones behind and the difficulties of being an ‘asylum seeker’, especially the uncertainty about the future. He said that his fellow Ethiopians shared with Mo the dream of being granted leave to remain, of being able to contribute to British society and of returning home if the political situation altered in favour of the Oromian people. Beth, a member of our group and also a volunteer with UID, told us of how her friendship with Mo developed after she had met him in Talgarth and how he’d ensure she didn’t wait for her bus home alone after volunteering. She shared her cherished memory of playing football on the beach with a group of about 10 people seeking asylum including Mo when some local men had asked if they could join in this informal match and how they’d all played together until the sea swallowed the pitch and the light had faded!
We had time to think about Mo and to hope that the peace which was denied him in life was now his.
Subsequently, we heard from Maria who stressed that “HBTSR’s support to everyone is very important and that the fact that we had come down for the evening meant a lot to so many”. Wayne wrote – “The tribute was amazing and was a wonderfully collaborative endeavour. I think our collective energies, compassion and willingness to connect as many people as we can to help our folks shows incredibly good practice and a wonderful change in attitudes is taking place. We are so empowered by you and everyone else at HBTSR, I could never thank you enough for the way you support our group and community members. You may remember when we first met, I was overwhelmed by what you provided for our friends – and I still am.”
We also noted that Mo had been homeless and destitute for long periods of time and took the opportunity to emphasise that in Swansea there were people at UID and SBASSG who would do their utmost to help if others found themselves in a similar situation. Please find the contact details for UID and SBASSG below for further information.
Unity in Diversity: https://uidswansea.com/
Swansea Bay Asylum Seekers’ Support Group: https://sbassg.wordpress.com/
Tribute from UID posted her with permission from Wayne Yare.
Mohammed joined our community in May last year. The first thing that struck us was how good his English was, speaking like a native speaker with hints of accents from around the UK. He arrived in the UK as an unaccompanied young person. He had spent over 12 years here in the UK as a refused asylum seeker, much of this time he was homeless and without any money. Life on the streets is very difficult indeed, especially when you have already experienced such terrible things in your own country. Whilst most young people have the support and opportunity to develop through school and into later life, Mohammed had fought hard to simply survive, from day to day. Despite having been through difficult times and not knowing when he would finally be able to settle into life like everyone else he was clearly a confident young man who had a great sense of humour, and as a result made friends quickly and easily. He loved sports and played with our football team. He made quite an impact on one of the UiD/HBTSR respite trips to Talgarth where he was invited to play on their team. He also liked to run and did very well in the last Cardiff marathon, supported by his friends; Bethan from UiD and Sean from HBTSR. He managed to run the Cardiff Half Marathon in just 1.37 – coming over the line with his arms crossed above his head in homage to the symbol of the Oromo people’s quest for justice in Ethiopia. He hoped to one day go back home and help in the fight for justice and independence for his people.
Our hearts go out to Nigussie, Mat, Mosab and Hadnet who shared a house with him until recently. They describe him as being very funny and entertaining; he joked a lot and could do many different accents which really made them laugh. They say he loved Swansea and felt that the support he got here from the UiD and SBASSG drop-ins as well as HBTSR was changing his life; he saw that positive changes were possible.
We are very sad indeed to lose Mohammed and he will be greatly missed by many people; here in Swansea and elsewhere.
Rest in peace brother.
Due to the circumstances of his death, no date for his funeral can be arranged until the coroner is satisfied that investigations are complete. A Swansea Mosque has offered to perform a funeral and burial at a future date unless someone else wishes to arrange this. We will be informed of date and time.