Refugee's 'life or death dash' to flee Africa for Norwich

Bereket Kudus has lived in Norwich since 2014 after fleeing from Eritrea

Bereket Kudus has lived in Norwich since 2014 after fleeing from Eritrea - Credit: Bereket Kudus

A refugee who fled Africa to escape conscription has said he has finally found safety here in Norwich - and hopes others will too.

Bereket Kudus is a 22-year-old refugee who left the East African nation of Eritrea seven years ago for fear of his life. 

Mr Kudus said he wanted to leave because he believed he would have to sign up for military service, and would be imprisoned if he did not comply. 

He said: “I didn’t want to be controlled or imprisoned for the rest of my life.

“I wanted to have something to hope for, and dreamt of having the right to do things that I am now able to.” 

Mr Kudus travelled to Norwich via five volatile countries, saying some situations were "life or death". 

When he reached the UK he was placed into foster care while attending Ormiston Victory Academy.

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He said: "I very quickly was made to feel like I had found my home. 

“Ormiston Victory Academy were always so glad to help me, the students and teachers alike all played a part in helping me to be where I am today.” 

He added that given recent events, other refugees would find similar happiness in Norfolk. 

He said: “I hope my story helps other people.

"Thanks to the help of this community I am now able to study engineering which will enable me to repair lifts and escalators. 

"I'm in my second year of an apprenticeship.” 

Ormiston Victory Academy’s performing arts department later took Bereket's story to the stage.

Head of dance Phil Ormerod said: "The piece was made to highlight the story of Bereket and the thousands like him, but sadly very little has changed in the years since we first showed the piece.

"We can only hope that experiences like this will affect the next generation so that they value compassion and tolerance as priorities for both us as a nation, and the world at large."

If you are a young person who has a story to tell or would be interested in having your voice heard in the paper, please contact Sophie Skyring via