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London Couple Opens Home to Gay Refugee

Every year, millions of people in Africa and the Middle East attempt to escape hardships, whether they be war, persecution, or poverty. Many of these migrants are relocated to live in Europe and Britain. What is being called a humanitarian crisis has claimed and changed the lives of thousands, but with the help of Praxis, some of these refugees are experiencing a second chance at life.

Praxis is a charity that helps migrants find housing accommodations in Europe so that they are able to comfortably transition into their new environment. Last year, Praxis accommodated over 80 people, with 20 of them being hosted by British families.

Tushira Nabasirye is a refugee who spent three months homeless in Britain before being invited to live in a London couple’s spare room through Praxis. Nabasirye had to flee Uganda in fear of being arrested for being homosexual, which can land you in jail for up to 14 years.

Anja Nyberg and Katherine Harris are a lesbian couple, and Nabasirye says that staying with them was like being at home. At first, Nyberg and Harris were worried about having a stranger in their home, but were made more comfortable by the protocol Praxis follows before placing a refugee with a family.

“[The experience] has challenged stereotypes that I might have had about migrants, but it can also challenge the misconceptions that migrants might have about life in Britain. We are expecting our first baby, so it has been good for Tushira to see how easy it can be for a [lesbian] couple here,” said Nyberg.

There are many other people in Britain who have given the same gift to refugees. Puck de Raadt, a retired clinical psychologist, has been opening her home to people since 1998. Ms. de Raadt, Nyberg, and Harris agree that what motivated them to help these people was the knowledge that the government systematically fails to take care of refugees.

“The UK Home Office practice of imposing indeterminate migration detention on such people is the worst thing for their already precarious mental health. No government will acknowledge the long-lasting and invisible public costs incurred by these short-sighted measures,” said de Raadt.

Although hosting does a great deal for these people and for the community, it is not the answer to the problem.

“The government needs to step up to the plate, not just by accepting more refugees, but by radically improving the way that they deal with them when they arrive in the UK,” said Nyberg.

Praxis houses migrants of all different situations who would otherwise be homeless, and the average stay can extend to six months. This is a luxury that the government cannot or will not offer the migrants that come to Britain.

“There are thousands of migrants homeless in the UK because of the dysfunctional Home Office system,” said Jean Demars, the former Housing Lead at Praxis.

Praxis’ vision is for “a society that welcomes displaced people and migrants, respects their human rights, enables them to live in dignity and make a contribution to the economic, social and cultural life of the UK.” Hopefully their work will inspire the government to envision the same.

Featured Image by torbakhopper on Flickr

Attribution-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic (CC BY-ND 2.0)

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