I came to America because I knew it would be a safer place for me. Where I come from there are no laws to protect gay people. Anyone can hurt you and even kill you, and it wouldn’t be considered a crime if you’re gay because you’re not considered human.
I remember hiding at my friend’s house after he was murdered by some police officers for being gay. One day, some members of the community broke in and beat me up really badly. They just thought I deserved it. My family didn’t accept the way I was, but my mom helped me leave.
Getting to America was scary, but I was also looking forward to feeling safe. It was a lot harder than I thought it would be once I got here. I didn’t know where to start or what to do to apply for asylum in order to be able to stay here. I went to the hospital in the area, and they had a program for people who have gone through violence. They connected me to Fenway Health’s Violence Recovery Program (VRP).
The people that work in the VRP were so welcoming and really helped me to know all my options. I got to have my own advocate that I met with weekly, in addition to a counselor. The advocate helped me with the process of applying for asylum and even helped me with things like food, clothing, and finding a lawyer. There was even a group for other people who were seeking asylum for the same reason I was. Some of them were even from the same place as me! It was nice to connect with other people going through the same thing, and we became pretty good friends, even outside of group.
When I finally got my work papers it was the best day. I was so happy I could finally work. I wasted no time and found a job to work while I also did a training program so that I could work with people who are elderly and disabled. I’ve always enjoyed taking care of people. I saved enough money to enroll in school and I’m starting out with one class while I continue to work.
Things have changed so much since I first got here. I can’t imagine having to do all this on my own. I’m glad I didn’t have to.
When you buy a ticket to our signature galas, The Men’s Event and The Dinner Party, you help Fenway Health make a real difference in the lives of community members like Akila. Buy Men’s Event tickets here and Dinner Party tickets here.
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