Forced to Flee
Awad Muhammed’s story
Awad is a Kenyan man. He is twenty years old. In Kenya homosexual relationships are not recognised and there is no protection against discrimination or prejudice.
Awad: (To audience) I am frightened. I am frightened because I cannot tell the truth. I have read newspapers, I have watched films and television programmes and I have surfed the internet. I know that in other countries, in other parts of the world, people who are like me can life safely and without fear of assault, abuse or rejection. My crime, in my country of Kenya, is to be a homosexual man.
If I stay here, it will cost me my life.
Awad steps back. Awad’s family step forward.
Awad’s father: (Shouting) I have no son. It is an abomination. It is ungodly. I have no son.
Awad’s brother: (Violently) I have no brother. If it comes back to this home then I will kill it.
Awad’s mother: (Crying) He is sick and nobody can help him.
They step back. Awad steps forward.
Awad: I work with cars. I have saved money and I have my own flat. I stay quiet; I keep my head down. My family wanted me to marry and have children. I know I can never marry a woman.
Awad steps back. His family step forward.
Awad’s brother: (Angrily) It was with another man. I saw it and I told you, father.
Awad’s father: (Fist clenched) This has brought disgrace to our family. This thing is not welcome in our house.
Awad’s mother: (Head in hands). Is there no solution, no way that he can change?
They step back. Awad steps forward.
Awad: (Looks closely at the three members of his family). My father. My mother. My brother. I will always love you but I cannot live with you. If I do not leave Kenya, I know I will be killed. I know you will not protect me.
I need you to know that I am not sorry for what I am. I am sorry for what Kenya is and what Kenya has made you.
Awad leaves the stage, stopping once to look back. He shakes his head and turns away.
Awad: I was able to travel to Warsaw. I lied and said I was on holiday. I escaped Kenya but my life did not become easy.
Customs Official: Why have you come to Poland?
Awad: I would like to claim asylum. Please. I cannot return to Kenya. I am a homosexual man and I will be beaten and killed if I return. Please.
Customs Official: (Coldly) You will be held with others like you. A judge will decide whether you can stay or whether you must return.
Awad: (Turning away): I was imprisoned for three months, placed with other asylum seekers. Some of them were terrible people. They hated me. (He holds out his arm). These bruises may fade but my memories cannot.
Judge: If the applicant returns to Kenya, I understand that his life is at risk. Therefore, we are willing to grant asylum.
Awad smiles and sinks to his knees. He clasps his hands and raises his eyes to the sky.
Awad: I was released from my detention and I was able to travel to Barcelona. Here, I made contact with an organisation called ACATHI. They listened to my story and helped me to find shelter.
ACATHI woman: We are able to support the vulnerable and we understand the challenges that LGBTQ+ people must endure in their countries of origin. We can help you.
Awad: ACATHI were able to advise me about employment and they helped me find somewhere to live. They treated me like a person and they did not show discrimination or prejudice against me because of my sexuality. In Barcelona, I am able to live freely and proudly as a homosexual man. I am not frightened here.
ACATHI woman: The Casal de Barri Pou de la Figuera is a public facility managed by the Casc Antic Gestió Comunitària Federation. It is a community hub.
Awad: I feel at home here. My family may have rejected me and this makes me sad. I am hopeful that maybe one day we will be able to re-unite. It may not be possible.
Awad’s brother shakes his head fiercely behind. Awad’s father is impassive. Awad’s mother holds out her hands towards him but her husband takes her hands and lowers them.
Awad: My family may have rejected me but Barcelona has welcomed me. Here at the Casal de Barri Pou de la Figuera, I am able to take part in events, I am able to study, I am able to support new initiatives and projects for the LGBTQ+ community and for other sections of society. I am able to belong.
For the first time in my life, I think. I am able to belong.
Awad’s boyfriend steps forward. They hold hands. On one side, the ACATHI woman steps forward. On the other, the judge steps forward. Awad’s family leave the stage. His mother continues to weep.