Empowering People. Strengthening Communities.

I was a physician, working as director of my local health district. I also worked with local Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) aiming at introducing better medical assistance in my own district. The army, knowing of my association with these groups, assumed that I was reporting abuses of people working with him to an international medical organization.

While at work one morning, I was ordered to report to the local army barracks where a group of soldiers awaited me. After being interrogated for 4-6 hours under terrible conditions, I was jailed for three days in an underground hole with barely enough food to get by. Each day, I was given a piece of bread to eat and every morning, after the soldiers doused me with water, I was beaten. I was very frightened. The government soldiers wanted me to confess that I was conspiring with rebels who were fighting against the army. With help from one of my guards, I eventually escaped to Kenya.

When I returned to my homeland, after volunteering as a surgeon with several Central African groups, I was summoned by the national security service. They suspected that I was providing intelligence to the army of the previous government. Again, I was interrogated for a long time and tortured. After rejecting the accusations, I heard rumors that I and other prisoners would be killed immediately (without a trial.) We did not eat for three days. Ten of us slept without bedding, had only a small jug of directly water to drink from, and were jailed in filthy conditions. One afternoon, two men were taken from our cell and interviewed outside. They returned three hours later badly beaten and unconscious. Early the next morning, one of them died. I feared for my life. On the fourth day, I was able to tell my family of my whereabouts. Eventually I escaped with the help of my family and friends, but I had to find a way to leave my country. An NGO for which I had previously volunteered, arranged to get a special visa for me, allowing me to stay in the US temporarily, safe from persecution.

Through assistance from PALAP this young doctor was granted asylum and now lives and works in the Worcester, MA area.