My name is Salay Hailey Kekula, I was born in Liberia, Kolahun on June 26, 1980 but moved to ivory Coast and then from Ivory Coast to Ghana in 1992 due to civil war in my country.
I am the only child between my parents. I never saw my mum and Dad together while growing up. I only grew up seeing my mum until I was 18 years when we moved to the UK, then it was my first time staying with my dad and actually getting to know him. In my childhood years, I grew up in the village speaking our dialect Gbaden until I was 11 years old and never went to school.
My mum gave me over to my auntie and uncle when I was 11 years old, when they left the city to the village because of the civil war. My auntie took me away from my mum and took me to live with her and my uncle in the city Kakata, prior to my relocation, I was living with my mum in the village called Taninahun until at the age of 11 years. I knew that my Mum was probably tired of me because I was stubborn and that was an opportunity for her to have some rest. If she knew she was throwing me to the Lions den, she would not have done it. I nearly died while living with my auntie.
After the war broke out the second time in 1992 in Liberia, my auntie sent me away to the village to stay with her mum and 11 children. There were many of us and there was not enough food for us. While living there, I suffered from mal- nutrition and pneumonia and I became very sick, but there was no hospital in the village.
My auntie came to the village and saw my condition and took me to the hospital.
After being admitted at the Feebe hospital, the doctors realised that my condition was very critical and therefore sent me to the intensive care unit immediately. The doctors didn't know where to begin with the treatment because I had multiple diseases. My stomach was very big and my body was very skinny. I noticed that, where I was sleeping in the hospital was a location where patients that the doctor has practically giving up on them were staying, just waiting to be pronounced dead. Every time someone died, my auntie will be touching me to see if I am still breathing. For me to escape that hospital alive, it can only be attributed to the miracle working of God.
I was at the point of death but God kept me alive and helped me come out of hospital. My Uncle came at the hospital and started crying and my eyes opened and I told my uncle that I will not die therefore, he should stop crying. I could write a whole book on my experiences of living with my auntie and step mum and Dad but that will be available another time. Suffice it to say that, I had many challenges to overcome. One of the main challenges that I faced was lack of knowledge of the English language. I came to the city and was going to school but I could not speak English and therefore suffered ridicule and language barrier in communication and understanding department.
Right after coming out of hospital, I caught measles and the only thing that I was taking was alcohol because measles affects the intestines and cause bleeding. My auntie and uncle took me to a white garment Church and left me there. They told me that, since I am not recovering, they will leave me at the Church and will be travelling to Ghana. I could write many paragraphs to explain my negative experience at the white garment Church. The main thing I will say about the white garment Church is that, they attempted to put a demon in me by taking me through some ritual in their attempt to cure me of my measles. The only good thing I can say about the white garment Church is that, they give me a place to stay and fed me.
I was only twelve years old and was just from the hospital and I was still sick and needed medical treatment because I had measles and was very skinny and sick on the verge of death.
Luckily for me, my dad was in the UK by that time. My Uncle Ab contacted my dad and was able to reach him and explained the situation to him. By that time, my step mum and children were in the middle of the war zone and so my other uncle who was in the army by then went there to fetch them. He successfully managed to get them out of the war zone and brought them to the city where I was residing. When they came, my uncle suggested to my dad that we should relocate to Ivory Coast because the was very critical and coming to the city where I was living.
On that fateful day, my uncle brought his car which was a mini bus and drove us to Ivory Coast. Upon reaching to Ivory Coast, my dad arrived and met us. My Dad recognised how critical my condition was and took me to the hospital where I was admitted with drips. According to the doctor I was close to dying and that my dad was just on time to take me to the hospital. After being admitted to the hospital for some weeks, I became well and came back home.
After a few months of living in Ivory Coast, we moved to Ghana in the Refugee camp for a few months and then finally, we moved to Accra in September 1992. I was no longer living with my auntie and uncle; I was now living with my step mum. In October, 1998, we relocated to the UK and since then, I have been living in the UK, Manchester.