Alex Hamilton has been visiting people in Dungavel for nearly 10 years. In this guest blog he explains why he visits.
For six years, I had the pleasure and privilege of travelling around over one hundred schools in north-west Eritrea. Tesfahiwet was one of the many hardworking and dedicated teachers who were so kind and hospitable to me. In 2004, Tesfahiwet managed to get across the heavily patrolled border into Sudan, travel through the Sahara to Libya from where, along with 42 others, he sailed towards Italy.
After four hours on the Mediterranean, his boat began to disintegrate and he spent seven hours kept afloat by two pieces of timber. By the time he was rescued, his skin under his arms had been rubbed away – the scars are still there, but the two timbers saved his life. Only six others were found alive.
Tesfahiwet is only one of many fine Eritreans I know who felt compelled to leave their homeland for a better world, as many of my relatives did when they went to Canada and the USA before and after the First World War. However, unlike the welcome that Canada and the US gave to my family members and that Eritreans gave to me (I cannot exaggerate the kindness and hospitality I was given by so many), Britain has locked tens of thousands of Tesfahiwets in places like Dungavel.
So I go to Dungavel to tell these Tesfahiwets they're welcome.
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