Sami's* story

*Names changed to protect identities

When I was seven years old I was abducted by soldiers from my home country during a civil war and taken to another African country where I was adopted.

I never saw my birth mother or my brother and sister again. This is why family is so important to me.

In 2004 I was trafficked to the UK. After I managed to escape and claim asylum it was still very hard. We had to move to a different city and my brain was not settled. When I think of what they did to me, I hear voices in my head. It is very hard for me.

When I look at my children I wonder if they will suffer the same punishment as me, especially the girls.

Counselling helped me a lot and I started to feel settled. I was feeling happy but then one day I saw my trafficker near my house and I was very scared so we had to move again as I didn’t feel safe. This wasn’t easy as I have four children and they had to move school.

Since moving I have had lots of support from my Hestia caseworker, she brought clothes and books for the children. I’ve also been able to develop my English and I’m learning computer skills which has really improved my confidence.

Before I was very scared and shy. Sometimes when I saw people, I would think we are different because of what I went through. My support worker has helped me see that I am not different.

I am now not ashamed to speak, and I no longer hide myself away.

Now that my children’s school know about my circumstances, I am no longer as worried. I even told the school that I wanted my children to go to extra lessons and they arranged this. They teach them very well and have supported them with reading and maths.

I want them to learn to have a good life. I don’t want what happened to me to happen to them.

They need to be confident, and I need to be proud of them. My older children are starting to ask questions about why we had to move and my eldest child has asked why I was so scared. He knows a little bit about what happened to me but not the full hard story. I think when he grows up, he will understand. I think I will talk to my children about my situation when they are older.

For me, my biggest desire is to stay with my children. I don’t want us to ever be apart like I am from my own mother and siblings. I want us to stay together, as a family.

Read Hestia's 'Underground Lives: Forgotten Children' report now