Hi to everybody. I am Aicha Diallo, I come from Guinea in West Africa. I am 35 years old. Now I live in Newport in South Wales. I am alone in this country, something which is very sad for me – but I am alive.

I came to the UK because I was forced to marry a man who I don’t love. It was an arranged marriage; my family forced me to marry him.

But, as I did not yet want to be united with this man whom I did not carry in my heart, in my thoughts and my nights for a life, I have chosen to leave my mum, my family, and friends in my country and come to a world of law where one does not abuse and does not torture women, where my uncle and husband cannot kill me or hurt me because I do not like this marriage. Yeah, I can’t go back because my uncle and my husband will kill me. They feel like I bring shame to the family because I ran away from my husband.

Here I feel like I will be protected and my voice will be heard and my choice will be respected. But I love my country, my mum, my friends and my family. I miss them too much every day. I would have liked to live with them, because for me there is nothing more beautiful than being surrounded by the people we love and who love us.

It is hard for me this new life, because in the UK everybody speaks English everywhere, and me, I speak French. It is hard to understand and speak with people, sometimes I cried so much because I thought I would never speak well or understand these people. But now since I started to learn English at the Red Cross and Bethel Church, and during my volunteering in the Red Cross shop, I improved my English and try to speak and understand. I am feeling confident now.

I must be strong and courageous for a better future. I feel too alone, yes, all very difficult – I hope it will change one day. I would have a family again, a man who loves me and have children. I am busy at the moment learning English at the Red Cross and at my place of volunteering, not staying stressed at home. I love working.

Thank you Red Cross for free English classes.

Speaking at Hay, I was very emotional. It’s not easy in front of so many people you don’t know. My story made me feel very sad and I wanted to cry but I remained strong. It wasn’t easy.