Refugee story: Rodrigue (Apr 20)

Rodrigue used to run a restaurant in Cameroon before it got burnt down and he had to flee for his life as a result of the civil conflict there. He made it to Cyprus in October 2019 and now he wants to put the past behind him so that he can move forward with his life.

Rodrigue is an inspiration to all who meet him and a key member of the Dignity Centre in Nicosia. He talked to co-founder Paul from his overcrowded accommodation in Cyprus about how tough it is to overcome the obstacles facing refugees in Cyprus, how much harder that is under the Covid-19 restrictions and how important our Dignity Centre is for people in his position.

Trying to rebuild a life in Cyprus

Rodrigue wants to integrate into Cyprus but the obstacles are daunting. Learning Greek is difficult, housing is overcrowded and expensive, he is only allowed to do poorly paid work and racial discrimination is commonplace. The support for refugees in Cyprus is not good enough. Rodrigue had no choice in becoming a refugee and he, like everyone, has a right to dignity.

Covid-19 restrictions have made it even harder

The authorities imposed strict social isolation restrictions to control Covid-19 and they are especially tough on refugees in Cyprus. Rodrigue explains what it is like to be forced to stay inside a hostel where he has to share a room with 5 others. How his employer’s business closed down so he lost his only income. How he receives food coupons that cannot be used. How without help he will go hungry.

At the Dignity Centre, he has found a family

The Dignity Centre is an essential lifeline for refugees in Nicosia Cyprus. It provides essential services but critically it is a place where people who have lost everything can feel they belong. Here Rodrigue explains about the breakfasts, language learning, computers, hygiene facilities, cinema, football and bicycle distribution. All these help people rebuild their lives but the most important function of the ‘Dignity’ is to offer a place they can call their own and find people who care for their wellbeing.

People like Rodrigue just need an opportunity to rebuild their lives and everyone will benefit.

Help us to help people like him.

Videos edited by Hattie Byford.

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