Wanting to vanish
Musa's only thought was that he needed to get out of his home country. And get out fast. Even if he didn't know where he was going to end up.
'I don't know what I was hoping for. Just a better life and somewhere I could start afresh.’
When he arrived in the UK as a 17-year-old unaccompanied minor, he had no idea where to go or who to ask for help.
I was hoping for a better life I was hoping for a better life
‘There are lots of emotions to work with. I felt terrified but also relieved.’
‘I was so happy to be out of my own country. But at the time you don't know what's going to happen.’
With nothing on him but his identity papers, Musa made his way to the police station and asked for help. This is where his asylum process began.
Fear of deportation
The police called in social services, who registered his claim for asylum, appointed him a social worker and found him a place to stay in a local hostel. He recalls being scared that he might be deported.
The anxiety continues for many years. It's not something that you can dismiss.
‘When I was 17 or 18, I felt if I did anything wrong or didn't engage with what people expected of me, I would be deported.’
With support, Musa enrolled in his local college where he became president and governor, being the voice of more than 24,000 students.
All the while he was going through the complex asylum process hoping for settled status. The first step to becoming a UK citizen.
But poor legal advice meant his application failed. His hostel put him in touch with us.
A helping hand
It was the only place I could speak freely.
Musa started attending a youth club run by one of our refugee and migrant services. When the project workers heard he was struggling to find good legal support they helped find him a new solicitor. Within months he was granted the right to remain in the UK.
‘It's because of The Children's Society that I am here today. If they hadn't helped me find a new solicitor I don't think I would have been so committed or confident enough to continue with my application.’
Finding a way to heal
Musa, now 24, has started his master's to become a barrister and has plans to specialise in immigration law.
‘I think that's a given. I want to go to work every day knowing that there is somebody needing my help. And more importantly, knowing that I can help them.’
He will never forget where he came from. But through focusing on helping others, Musa has found a way to heal.
Campaigning for change
Musa is part of a group of young people called the Youth-led Commission on Separated Children.
The Youth-led Commission are using their experience of the asylum process to improve the system for unaccompanied children arriving today. Together, they are healing through helping others.