Alice Chigumera

Born: 15th May 1965

Harare, Zimbabwe

Date of interview: 31st May 2006

Map showing where Alice Chigumera came from

When you came was that the year 2000?

2002 in July. I arrived here 2002, July 28th . I got through the immigration and came and stayed in Shinfield with my friend and I stayed there for about two weeks. I was still in a traumatic situation. I'd left my kids there and I was just devastated about what had happened, my kids, my whole entire life had been left in Zimbabwe, I had a lot of properties that I'd bought, I'd had a very good house and was doing quite well ... to come here and sort of live from hand to mouth from my friend was devastating especially leaving my kids. By then Tadiwa was about two, three years and Michelle also born '92, was about ten years and I left them with their cousins.

I stayed here for about two weeks in Reading and finding it very difficult to manage and most of the things that had to be done had to be done in London concerning my stay here. It was more or less like a political asylum and my friend, there was very little that she could do to help me going up and down by train to go to London and come back, the next day go again so I moved over and went to stay in Canning Town with another old friend of mine, we grew up in the same location. I stayed with her, she was very helpful, she was wonderful, people did help me a lot here and she introduced me to people, a lawyer who could help me through all of the whole system of political immigration and asylum system and I had all the evidence about my political asylum, I used paper cuttings, I had Diplomatic passports, more or less all that was needed and I was granted indefinite stay to live, to live in the UK.

I started working immediately, got a job as a carer, something very totally different and I was still in London then, because I moved from Reading in August just to go and make sure that all was done in London and it was quite a difficult time, there was absolutely nothing I could do except to become a carer and a cleaner. You imagine from somebody who used to have caviar and champagne becoming somebody looking after elderly people and not managing to even buy a handbag for yourself, do what they call long days. I could not take money from home to bring it here, I wasn't there to sign all those things and I've never gone through a period like that in my life, and all the time I could not sleep thinking about my children.