Leicester – An asylum seeker who escaped persecution in Binga has turned her life around after moving to Britain.
As well as making a better life for herself, Christina Ndlovu has dedicated her time to volunteering for the Red Cross and helping others.
Her ultimate dream is to be granted asylum and be reunited with her son who she has not seen for 12 years.
Christina performed in a celebration hosted by the British Red Cross in Town Hall Square, Leicester, to mark Refugee Week which highlighted the contribution refugees make to life in the UK.
Live performances included South African swing band Afro City, Bollywood dance troupe Desi Mesti and a Zimbabwean choir.
More than 900 refugees are known in Leicester, although the actual figure could be higher. Christina left Zimbabwe with her sister in 2002 after political unrest made it unsafe.
In Zimbabwe, she was a secretary and said everything was normal until 2000. Christina, 39, said: “There were people who were violent towards others regardless.
“People were being threatened and accused of doing things you did not do.
“You would try to live your life but other people were being disruptive to where you lived.”
Christina and her sister decided to leave their home in the village of Binga during the night.
She said one of the hardest things was to leave her son who was only eight. This year he will be 21 in September.
At the time, Christina thought it was too risky to take him and hoped he would be able to follow at a later date.
“To have a child, not knowing what I would face was too dangerous – that is the reason why I left him,” she said.
“I wish to be reunited with him. I missed his time growing up.”
Christina said her late brother, who died in a car crash in 2012, had been looking after her son.
Once Christina moved to England in 2002 , she said life started to get better. She then came to Leicester and now lives in Northfields with her husband, whom she married in 2011.
Since being in Leicester, she has completed a health and social care level three course at Leicester College and it was there where she learnt about the British Red Cross.
Christina initially came to the Red Cross for support and was given basic provisions as well as advice.
Christina said she then realised that other people were in the same situation as her. After benefiting from the Red Cross, Christina decided she wanted to give something back.
She volunteers as a care worker three days a week, giving advice and support at a daily drop-in clinic for asylum seekers and refugees. At the end of the day, she said she enjoys coming home knowing that she has helped someone.
She has also become an active member of the Zimbabwean Action in Solidarity, Leicester’s branch of the Zimbabwean Association.
While Christina waits patiently for a decision from the Home Office, she still finds reasons to be cheerful.
She said: “I have lots of friends – I think Leicester is such a good city. I feel loved and wanted in Leicester.”
Cathy Stevenson, senior services manager for refugee and asylum seeker support, said Christina is an inspiration.
“She fled persecution, but since she has been here she has made Leicester her home and supported the wider community,” said Cathy.
“She volunteers a lot, despite her own hardships. We are proud to work with people like Christina. Her work really does save and change lives.