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16 October 2014

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Croeso i Gymru

By Norbert X Mbu-Mputu
October 2006, Newport
A digital story from Capture Wales

Building Bridges

Norbert had to flee the Democratic Republic of the Congo, leaving his wife and family behind. Now he's trying to rebuild a new life in Wales.

"I never planned to come here. I left my family back home in Congo-Kinshasa to seek asylum. I was arrested after politics investigations. I am journalist.

When I visited London years ago, I slept in a tree- star hotel. I was an international staff member. This time for nine months, I slept in a night shelter, on the streets, in hospital emergencies, night buses, pubs, trains and police stations. I was homeless, helpless and hopeless. I learned everything in the street, to speak English, to struggle to live and to make friends.

Eventually the Immigration decided to send me to Wales. I never heard about Wales apart from the story of Princess Diana.

We left London one morning by bus. The officer stood up and said, "We are now crossing the new Severn Bridge, the border between England and Wales. You must pay to enter Wales but nothing when coming out." We could then read "Croeso i Gymru". Wales is a country of more than one language.

In Newport, I started another life. It is a nice city crossing the Usk and bridges link both river banks. I could smell freedom breeze when I cross them. I found new friends and very often we met at special pub in the town.

I am a dreamer and I decided to link and to build bridges between people through setting up a community group where we can help each other to learn the skills we need to live here.

Alas, I am still an asylum seeker but I hope I can taste soon the perfume of freedom and give something back for friendships enjoyed."

Norbert X Mbu-Mputu

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