“I was born in Iran. I was about 20 years old when my mum was shot – that was a time when there was war between Iraq and Iran, and she was shot and she died. 40 days later, my dad had a heart attack and he passed away too.
I was 28 years old when my husband died. So I was all by myself with four children.
Then six years ago, while we were on the way with my son to the north of Iran, I managed to meet a gentleman. We spoke together and we tried to get to know each other, and he asked me to marry him.
A week after marriage, everything turned upside down with his behaviour and the way he treated me. He was verbally abusive and he used to beat me up. In my country, women have few rights. My hands were tied. He threatened me... He was well known and powerful, and if I left my life would be at risk.
So I had to escape, I had to run away. I decided to take my niece’s car, and drive to the north of Iran. It was horrible, it wasn’t an easy thing to do: to find a smuggler. I suffered a lot, I didn’t have much to eat, and the smuggler said I will take you to a European country - he didn’t say where. So when I arrived here, I was in a very terrible and very poor situation. I’d not had a chance to shower or take a bath for ten days.
I applied for asylum, but when I was refused, the government stopped their support, and I moved from Birmingham to Manchester. I stayed with my friend and I went to church. And that was the time I became very faithful, and became a believer of Jesus.
It was in 2012, the sixth day of Christmas. I was asleep; then there were four police officers were standing near me and they asked me to wake up and stand up. They said to me, “You are in this country illegally.”
So they detained me. They took me to Yarl’s Wood. I was there and I was terrified. I wanted to kill myself there.
I wasn’t as healthy as before, actually my health was at risk – I could only see with 1 eye. So I went to Red Cross. And from there they advised me to go to Boaz, and then I came here while I was very hopeless, very hopeless.
I’ve been through a lot. I’m 60 years old now. Thanks to Boaz, I know I’ll have a roof over my head at night. I have a solicitor to help me. Still sometimes, I’m very scared and anxious when I have to go to the Home Office to report, but then I feel like Jesus is always with me and will help me out of this. Boaz is just like my family.”
Boaz supported Mary to make a fresh claim, and she was then granted refugee status! We caught up with her in spring 2019, and heard that she is very happy now to be now living in her own place and that she has built up a really good support network of friends in her new community.