Pregnant and detained without trial or charge
“HHUGS never felt like a charity organisation, more like family”
Two months after I was released from the detention centre in Ethiopia, I gave birth to my daughter, Aisha. And twelve days after I had her, I found out her father had died. Even though I had been hoping that he was alive, I didn’t want to hear the stories I’d heard of what was happening to the men when they were taken away. You’d wish you were dead than hear about them. So when I learned that he’d passed away, it’s weird to say, but I felt relief. But then again, it was a double edge sword. He’d never meet his daughter.
It took months before I could return to the UK. I stayed with a friend, when I first got back, then I got a flat near her. I remember I was really paranoid those first couple of years. I still don’t like going out after a certain hour, I just don’t feel safe. And it was depressing: being a single mum, my husband not being alive. It hasn’t been easy, but you learn to move on.
Now with Aisha growing up, and I’m seeing how her father’s absence affects her, it’s harder. Sometimes I try to overcompensate, but I can never fill that hole. I think that’s why Allah puts so much emphasis on the orphan, because it doesn’t matter what you do, that effect is really huge. She is my little weakness. I remember when she was in nursery, I would pick her up and she would look at other kids with their dads carrying them and she would just tear up. It kills me, it really does. So these past years have been even more difficult for me. With the simplest things I have to deal with, like bills, I’m finding it more stressful.
It was a friend, who is also a HHUGS family, who contacted them on my behalf. I remember a sister from HHUGS kept asking, “What do you need?” and I was insisting, “I don’t need anything.” But I did, and subhanallah the things they delivered.
When my landlord increased the rent again and I couldn’t afford it anymore, he gave me an eviction notice. I went through the council, went to a hostel, and I’m here now in temporary accommodation. But when we moved in it was an empty house, we didn’t even have a bed. HHUGS, subhanAllah, only two or three days it took and they brought us a bed, a cooker, a washing machine, fridge. They provided everything.
There are times where I struggle to pay for basic things, like the bills. Once I’ve paid for them, I can’t afford food. So HHUGS provides vouchers for food, and that’s the groceries sorted. It’s like someone chipping in to make things easier. During Eid we get meat delivered, and meat is expensive, so that’s a huge financial burden lifted, because the portion is so big, it goes a long way. During winter they helped us out, and they provided money towards Aisha’s school uniform. They always bring her Eid gifts and organise fun days out with other kids, and coffee mornings for sister. But the most incredible gift for both of us was that they helped us get my daughter’s naturalisation… I couldn’t have done that. Even Aisha knows how stressful that was for me, because they had refused to give it to her, and we’d been fighting six years to get it. The day we found out, her face lit up, and we made sujood together. She knows that it was HHUGS’ support that made it possible. Funnily enough, whenever something good happens and Aisha doesn’t know the source, automatically she asks, ‘Oh, is it HHUGS?’
HHUGS never felt like a charity organisation, more like family. My first key worker was amazing, bless her! It was never this formal relationship where they gave handouts, but literally like a friend that you can offload on and not be judged. You know, it’s really difficult to tell someone, ‘I’m struggling.’ For me, it’s the hardest thing. But they make you feel at ease, and they let you know that you’re not the only one, there are others in your situation, it’s ok to say ‘I need help.’ So the emotional support was one thing, and the financial support was another, because it lifts a weight off you. There was a debt I had that was just hanging over me, and it paralyses you, you know, constantly thinking, I have to pay this. They’ve lifted some huge burdens from me, and that made life so much easier.
I personally haven’t seen a charity as unique as HHUGS. They’re there supporting the people that others would shy away from. I understand there are orphans of war and people facing famine out there and there’s so many charities that support them, Alhamdulillah; whereas with sisters like me, a lot of people are scared to get involved. I’ve met so many whose lives have been completely destroyed, through no fault of their own. Not many would admit to needing help, and yet they’re struggling with so much behind closed doors. These are the sisters who need support most from the ummah, and they’re just pushed aside. But isn’t it the people you don’t want to know, and you’re scared to be associated with, that you should help? Because who are we scared of really? Allah or who?
I couldn’t repay what HHUGS have done, these past few years, for myself and for my daughter. And I ask Allah to reward them, because I know I won’t be able to. I tried to give back. I’ve participated in the walks, did some fundraising; I was volunteering for a bit as well. But in sha’ Allah, if Allah allows me – and He will – to be in a better position, then I’m going to be their number one supporter again.