One of our clients, Cecile Weta, was refused this right, repeatedly, over a period of ten years. However, after a gruelling court appearance and lengthy decision period afterwards, Cecile has finally received the news that she has been given the right to stay in the UK according to Article 3, Humanitarian Protection. We at SDCAS were thrilled to celebrate her news with her over tea and cake at the Copleston Centre.
Cecile's journey has been a long and dangerous one. She was abused and threatened with death in her home country, from which she fled to seek asylum in Britain. She lost her children to the violence which continues to be perpetrated in that country to this day. However she has continued to speak out against this violence against women, in particular, as Vice-President of the Congolese Women's Support Group. She has encouraged many victims like herself and maintained a strong Christian faith throughout all her setbacks. Cecile was even interviewed on the radio by Cardinal Vincent Nichols who admired her faith and wanted to raise awareness of her case and others like her.
Cecile has always remained hopeful that her request for asylum would eventually be granted and she has dreamed of having just a "little space of her own" where she could prepare her favourite foods. She has nonetheless always been grateful for the hospitality and kindness of strangers and friends on her long journey through the asylum process, especially the Salesian Sisters of Beckenham who share their home and SDCAS workers and volunteers who she calls her "family". She also remains immensely grateful to the lawyers of Southwark Law Centre and the support workers at the Notre Dame Refugee Centre as well as the specialists at Freedom From Torture.
Now Cecile faces a new challenge, that of accessing the financial support to which she is entitled and she is grateful for the welfare advice and support given by St Christopher's Hospice where she is receiving therapeutic treatment. These challenges have not altered her positive attitude, faith and hope and we are privileged to have such a client among us. We continue to support her until she achieves her independence. Once she is settled somewhere she plans to study English seriously and looks forward to cooking more of her favourite Congolese dishes. We hope she will continue to join in SDCAS activities as long as she is able, especially the storytelling sessions and outings which she has enjoyed so much this year.