Jenny Dakosta Van Mputu

Mental Health

My Life as an Activist, Asylum Seeker, and UK Resident

March 7, 2024

‘Nothing worth having comes easy. Your hard work will lead you to your goals.’

Hello, I am Jenny Dakosta Van Mputu, a 48-year-old man from the Democratic Republic of the Congo. My life story unfolds as a 12-year odyssey marked by struggle, resilience, and an unwavering fight against injustice. Join me as I reflect on my tumultuous journey as an asylum seeker in the UK.

In the Congo, my activism against injustice, lack of freedom, and corruption led me to challenge Mobutu’s oppressive regime.

I never imagined facing a dictatorial regime like the one I left behind. It all started with the first president, which prompted me to begin my fight against Mobutu. His reign lasted an astonishing 32 years with no elections, no opposition, essentially running the country as his own pocket. Corruption and fraud were rampant, and our fight seemed futile.

After Mobutu’s passing, a new president emerged – Laurent Kabila in 1997. He came to power without an election, through rebellion. Initially, we thought he would bring change, but sadly, the same oppressive story unfolded.

I found myself becoming a leader among university students, always keeping a close eye on French politics due to our colonial history with Belgium.

In my hometown of Como, I constantly observed French and Belgian political models, believing a leader should have a maximum of two terms, each lasting no more than five years. But our president went beyond that, and it became my mission to mobilise the younger generation, to protest and challenge the oppressive regime. My motivation as a public figure and opinion leader was fueled by a burning desire for change.

For three intense years, I poured my energy into leading the charge for change. I couldn’t accept the stark contrast between the leader’s luxurious life and the extreme poverty faced by the population.

The minister in the government lived lavishly while people struggled to put food on their tables. I demanded transparency and accountability – the riches of our country, Como, a place blessed with gold, uranium, bronze, and oil, yet the people were the poorest on the planet.

The situation became unbearable, akin to a millionaire footballer with homeless children begging on the streets. I felt a deep need for change, but the international community seemed indifferent.

 Fueled by this injustice, I began my fight, but unfortunately, I couldn’t resist for long. Witnessing friends losing their lives in vain, I knew i had to run for my life. I lost everything – my home, my belongings – as those who were arrested were mercilessly killed. I was forced to make a life-altering decision in 2006 – to flee for my safety.

Arriving in the UK as an asylum seeker, I faced a bureaucratic nightmare. Detained at the airport, I teetered on the brink of deportation. Fortunately, intervention spared me from returning to the dangers I fled. However, the ensuing 12 years were marked by homelessness and a relentless battle to secure asylum.

For over a decade, I moved through 20 cities in the UK, each with its unique struggles. Birmingham, Glasgow, Southampton, Cardiff – the concept of home became elusive. In 2018, a compassionate lawyer recognized the strength of my case, sparking a legal battle against the stringent immigration policies of the Home Office.

Facing the courtroom, I fought for justice with unwavering perseverance. My plea was eventually heard, highlighting the arduous path faced by countless asylum seekers.

Through my story, I aim to shed light on their struggles and the crucial role that support and accessibility play in their journey.

Today, I express gratitude for the opportunity to share my truth and raise awareness about the injustices faced by asylum seekers. The journey may have been tough, but my spirit remains unbroken, and my commitment to justice is unwavering.

My life has undergone a profound transformation, and in this moment of reflection, I extend my gratitude to God for guiding me from where I came from to where I am now. The change in my life is monumental, and I owe much of it to the incredible support and opportunities provided by the UK, a place that I now proudly call home.

This transformative journey began when I was granted refugee status, breaking down the barriers that once restricted my access to various aspects of British society. The newfound status opened doors, including an address that I proudly call home: 205 A Wood Roads in Prestwich, Manchester.

Currently, I am actively engaged in various pursuits, from studying to working with computers and contributing to human rights organizations. My passion for creating positive change in the Congo has not wavered, even from a distance.

One of my roles involves working as a support worker in Birmingham. This choice stems from a deep sense of gratitude for the generosity and support that the UK has showered upon me.

During my time in Birmingham, I worked in a care home for a year, gaining invaluable experience as a support worker. It’s not just about money; it’s about giving back to a country that has given me so much. I see myself as an integral part of this society, not as a foreigner but as a British citizen in every sense except for a passport and a statue.

As I continue my work in Manchester, attending church at Hashem, I am committed to supporting disability individuals, extending my care and love to those who need it the most. My vision goes beyond just providing the basics – it’s about giving them energy, love, and the support they deserve.

Looking forward, I see myself becoming a British citizen in the future, granting me even more opportunities to contribute positively to the society that has embraced me. I want to express my readiness to support others – financially, morally, spiritually, and physically – because this country is not just a place to sleep and eat; it’s a place where I can channel my energy to make a difference and save lives. I am here, alive, and grateful to contribute to the tapestry of this incredible nation.

As you embark on the journey of life, I want to share some valuable advice that I’ve gathered from my own experiences. Life is a series of challenges and triumphs, and how you navigate it will shape your destiny.

Take the time to plan your life, set goals, and concentrate your energy on achieving them. Be serious and honest with yourself. Trust in your abilities, and remember, nothing worth having comes easy. Your hard work will lead you to your goals.

Life is full of challenges, and disappointments may come your way. However, don’t focus on where you are; focus on where you’re going. Persevere through challenges, and never give up. Each obstacle is an opportunity for growth and learning.

This blog was written by John Matthews, based on the interview with Tales to Inspire. 

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