Hello, I am Asad. That is a painting of me in Somalia. I was 20 years old when I left Somalia, this painting was made 3 days before. Now here about my journey and think of the many immigrants all over the world.
I had to leave my wife and daughter behind. I hoped I would reunite with them. I wanted to go to a different country to get an education and provide for my family. We also were not safe here since Somalia was in a Civil War. Truces didn't last for long and there was also a famine.
The country I had chosen to go to was Thailand. I had chosen to go to Thailand because it had good education and health care. In fact, about 90% of the the population was literate. However Thailand was far away from Somalia, and I had to go across the Indian Ocean.
Time for Dinner!
However Asad didn't realize that since Thailand didn't sign at the 1951 Refugee Convention, it doesn't recognize refugee's rights. So Asad was considered an illegal immigrant, stripped of his legal identity, he was denied acess to basic services like healthcare, employment, and education.
"I was disappointed and wanted to give up on my studies"I said later. However that´s when I heard of Asylum Access Thailand or AAT. In 2016, I took on leadership opportunities. I gained legal skills. However I still knew I needed a formal education. He joined the Bangkok Refugee Club. An AAT group that helps youth get an education . Students took an admission test for an online higher education.
Eight passed. One was Asad himself. He is now reunited with his wife and daughter now in Thailand and is awaiting refugee status determination. He attends an online school, the University of The People. (Tuition-free) He also empowers fellow refugee community members.