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Nothing is easy

Abdisalan's run to safety

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Abdisalan’s story

“Everybody has to make their own decision,” says Abdisalan. “If you say to people, ‘this is fire and this is water’ and they choose the fire, that is their choice.”

While living in Somalia, Abdisalan found himself having to choose between two fires. War had broken out in his home area that resulted in his his father being killed by Al Shabaab militants right before his eyes. Having nowhere else to go, he decided to flee Somalia. He embarked on the journey despite knowledge that it would certainly present its own problems.

Listen to Abdisalan talk about life in Somalia and his reason for flight.

With no cent to his name, and no family to turn to, Abdisalan left Somalia. He was afraid of telling anybody his plans, fearing he would then be forcefully recruited by Al Shabaab.

“If you say you are leaving they will force you to stay and recruit you,” he says. “I was forced to hide my intentions from most of the people.”

Over the course of his journey, Abdisalan contacted his friends and asked them to send him money, without disclosing its purpose. From Somalia, he would travel through Kenya, Uganda, war-torn South Sudan, Sudan, and Libya.

Listen to Abdisalan’s account of his journey.

Abdisalan’s ambition in life is to take part in an international marathon one day. With no education or work experience, running is his one true passion. On his way to Belgium, Abdisalan was arrested in Germany for having no identity documents and was forced to seek asylum. His lifetime ambition seems so close yet so far, with language presenting a barrier to expressing his interest in training.

“I have no running clothes,” he says. “When you are motivated and have support you can run, but when I go training and I can’t speak the language, I don’t get a good training.”

“I believed that the first most important thing for me was safety, and I got that,” he adds. “The second hope was that I could work after three months, but this country’s language is difficult. But that is not a problem as I will learn the language when I live here.”

Listen to Abdisalan speak of his hopes for the future.

Date of interview: 8 September 2015  |  Last modified: 28 May 2016  |
Interview by: Mariam Hersi  |  Written by: Christa Awuor Odinga  |  Video by: Viktor Nordenskiöld