Eritrean Cuisine with Helen

Hello, my name is Helen Goitom. I am from Eritrea. I was brought up in a city called Asmara – the capital city of Eritrea. My mother taught me to cook when I was 12 years old. I have 6 brothers and 2 sisters. My brothers never cooked, only me and my sisters. I have been in the UK for 1 year and 5 months. I got my refugee status 8th august 2018. I am now 29.

In 2014 I was forced to join the army in Eritrea. Everyone in my country had to join. Only my father couldn’t join because he was ill. All my family were forced to be in the army. After 3 years of being in the army I wanted to leave the army because it was very dangerous and scary, I didn’t like it. Often there was not enough food and water for the soldiers, there was never any rest, every day working no rest. My father was very sick so I asked to go visit him in hospital. They wouldn’t let me. I escaped to see my father. The authorities went to the hospital and put me in prison. I spent 6 months in prison. Then my aunt’s son paid someone to help me escape.

I went to Sudan, then Turkey, the Greece, then Italy, Belgium. In Belgium 12 of us snuck into the back of a lorry, the driver was asleep, he didn’t notice us. And the lorry got to the UK.

I am happy here in London. People help me. There are so many amazing services. When I’m ill I can get medicine. In Eritrea there was no medicine. There were no good schools. I feel very grateful to be here. My friends who I met in the lorry I am very good friends with still, they are like family to me.