Basma is sat with a backdrop of greenery, in shade with scattered sunshine surrounding her. Basma explains the reasons she left Egypt were ‘I felt I don’t belong there. I can’t continue my life being there and because I decided to take off my hijab.’ Moreover, she is an FGM survivor who wants to continue her activism. Despite Egypt toughening penalties for FGM, it is still practised in Egypt especially in rural areas where the practice is more engrained in culture so talking out about FGM can be dangerous.

‘The trauma still lives with you. It’s always there, you always remember what happens to you.’

Coming to Wales has allowed Basma to have access to support and services unavailable in Egypt. This means that she now goes to therapy to address and work through her trauma.

‘I really don’t want any young girl to live this experience and I want to support survivors like me to have therapy.’

However, moving to a new country to seek asylum has its challenges. Basma recalls how emotional the bus journey to the airport in Egypt was. She remembers ‘looking out the window to say goodbye to everywhere.’ Basma was not sure when she would next return to her home county and expressed worries about having to return to that life and about deportation. 

Lockdown happened two weeks after her flight landed in Bristol. This made the whole process of applying for asylum even more stressful. This is mainly due to the lack of anything to do or people to interact with. Basma describes how frustrating it is to just stay home with your thoughts, especially when thinking about an uncertain future.

‘I am free to speak out and to share my experience.’

Basma recognises how she is now free to safely talk about her experience in the UK in comparison to Egypt. Furthermore, there are more women speaking out, sharing their FGM stores in Egypt now, which Basma is so happy about. This will be in part due to more and more pressure from the international community to stop FGM and enforce harsher laws surrounding the practice. Importantly the international community would have nothing without the voices of women like Basma. They have and will continue to capture people’s attention to this abusive practice.

It’s really hard when you are here alone with nobody and you’re trying to do such big things like influencing other people.’ 

Basma’s new challenge is finding people to truly connect, confined in, and give her strength to continue this journey. She says, ‘here it is easy to speak’ but hard to do so when she has left all her ‘beloved ones at home.’ Yet Basma’s perseverance and determination is clear to see.  

‘I’m trying to be strong now and continue life here in my new home.’

Written By Tess Brunskill.

Find out how to support Basma, and others just like her:

1. Make a Donation: Here

Still, want to show your support for refugees and asylum seekers but can’t participate in the challenge? Every donation goes directly towards supporting people who have made difficult journeys to get to safety.

2. Sign up to cycle a short distance as an individual or couple: Here 

If you’re able to mount a bike then we encourage you to book in a slot to complete a short distance of this journey. You do not need to be an athlete to participate, we need the whole community to get us From Kabul to Cardiff!

If you’re not able to mount a bike and you would still like to get involved, please get in touch so we can explore some options that will work for you.

3. Sign up to be one of our core teams and complete a long-distance cycle: Here 

If you love to cycle, are part of a cycling club, want to create a team within your workplace, or just love a challenge, then this option is for you. Teams can be any size and would be able to collectively cycle 800 miles across the month.

4. Cycle Remotely: Here 

If you can't make it to Oasis, you can track your miles remotely by joining our Strava club. Just download Strava, and search for ‘From Kabul To Cardiff’
If you have any questions, please email [email protected] or call 029 2046 0424