Abdiwali's Story

I moved to London from Mogadishu was I was 15 years old. My family wanted to get away from the fighting there and find a better life, but they couldn’t afford for everyone to come to London so I came alone. I moved in with my Aunt and Uncle in Sudbury, there wasn’t enough room for me so I had to sleep on the floor. I was going to school at this time and my Head Teacher asked me about my home life. The social services were contacted and they tried to put me into care but I didn’t want to go.

I moved to a hostel in Sudbury, where I stayed for about two months until finally I was placed in a shared flat. I was happy there for a while but when I turned 18 I was told I had to leave, I was now deemed an adult and therefore social services could no longer help me.

I stayed in various hostels over a 4 year period. During this time I had to go away to visit a sick relative, when I returned to my hostel I was told I had missed the flat they had allocated for me and I had to leave. This is when things really started to go wrong for me.

I was sleeping on friends floors and started chewing Khat. It helped me to forget my problems and made me feel better. I have always been into music, writing songs has always helped to ease my frustration. But now Khat was starting to take its place.

By 2006 I had managed to get myself into a shared flat in Brick Lane, I must have been in and out of at least 25 hostels over the last few years so for me it was pretty settled. I was still chewing Khat but I was studying and doing my music so I felt like I was in control. I still felt as though something was missing though and during this time I got married.

We moved to Leicester as there were problems between myself and my wife’s family. We were from different “clans” so they didn’t approve of our marriage and were making it difficult for us. Unfortunately it didn’t work out and I was married for less than a year. I moved back to London, I had no home and I hadn’t finished my studies, I was starting from scratch all over again. I was still chewing Khat and my friends were starting to give up on me, saying I was throwing my life away. I had even stopped doing my music.

I went to Housing Options in Camden and was sent to Conway House. This was before it was refurbished so I was sharing a room again. It was a bit noisy and not as clean as it is now. Whilst Conway House was being refurbished we were sent to Seven Sisters Road, I wasn’t happy there so after 3 months I left.

I went to Africa where I got married for the second time and came back to London in March 2012. I went back to Housing Options and was sent to the newly refurbished Conway House.

Whilst at Conway House I started a free to Learn course which has trained me to be able to work in the security industry. My new years’ resolution was to be free from Khat in 2013 but after I had successfully completed the course I met up with some friends and stupidly chewed some Khat to celebrate. It wasn’t long until I was chewing it all day everyday again.

My key worker Nabil put me in touch with Camden Aftercare where I did an Initiative Recovery Course which helped me understand my addiction. The teacher was brilliant; he helped me realise I need to look after myself if I really want to get back on track. Violaine my CRI Drug support worker has also motivated me to get my life back on track and has taught me coping mechanisms to avoid relapsing.

I want to use my experiences to help young children with no family of their own to have a better life. To help them understand you live by choice not chance and to listen to yourself and not be led by others. There is currently a campaign to ban Khat coming into the UK, which I am helping with. I am going to the Somali Community Centre in Wembley later today to talk to the young people there about my experience on Khat in the hope it will make them think twice before trying it.

All I really want is a normal life like everyone else. I would like my own place, to finish my education, to have a job and for my wife to be living with me. It feels as if after all these years this is actually possible and things really are going to start to change for the better