Getting to Know…The Kitchen Porters -
KP for Short (Diary of an Immigrant or
Foreigner as a Kitchen Porter or Kitchen
Steward in the
Despite the vast material wealth that Democratic Republic
of Congo is endowed with, the country has remained backward in terms
of wealth distribution. The country has a mineral deposit aggregated
to $24 trillion but this treasure has done nothing to alleviate poverty
and give citizens a source
of income and financial
Over 50 percent of the country’s population live on a
daily income of less than $1. There is no single excuse as to why a
country endowed with billions of dollars of resources can project
majority of its citizens to this extreme
poverty. Democratic Republic of Congo has been subjected to a
slew of dictatorial rulers and this is one of the many reasons why the
country cannot exploit its sleeping potentials and concentrate on
improving the lives of its citizens. However, the country has gained
enough political stability to attempt a democratic government.
On 4th May 2006, Moses embarked on a journey, a
financial freedom. The journey he embarked on would get him
out of his home in Goma Congo to United Kingdom. The journey that took
several months of physical planning and required arduous physical
exertion over the hundreds of miles from his rural home to the city
and eventually to the Promised Land.
Moses narrated his journey to the UK’’ I think am the
only person in the world who has had the most incredible journey of
escape’’, at the age of 18, I was brutally separated from my
mother by my dictatorial government which went on to abuse every
Congolese in the country’’. He narrated.
The mass graves in the Banana plantation in Congo is a
shiny evidence of the second Rwanda genocide and its effects on the
people of DRC. ‘’ The
worst of all was the 1996 coalition of the Rwandan and the Ugandan
armies together with the Congolese opposition leader Laurent Kabila.
The war elapsed and my mother and older sister were nowhere to be
seen. By that time I was out of the village for my college education
in a University in Kinshasa. The news got me unaware and I thought
that my school life would end. I had to stay strong and complete my
end of semester exams before I went home for the burial’’. He
‘’From this time, I grew up without any mother figure
around me. My mother was a casual
laborer in a sugar company and hence she was the only hope we
had. My father was so
irresponsible and he never gave an eye to the family even when my
mother was alive. We grew without someone to give us hope, confidence
and support in life. My mother’s death was the beginning of trouble,
I was the second born and hence I was left to be a supportive figure
to the rest of the family’’ He said.
The father-child love is deemed very important in raising
children but this is what Moses and the siblings had to go through.
Sometimes the psychological effects of our childhood
experiences can have some impactful effects on how we grow. Moses had
a tough time growing and being the 2nd born in the family,
he had to support the father in most of the chores and financial
crumbles. ‘’ Going into therapy to cope with the problems
that had already surrounded us is the most important thing that I
leant as I was growing up in a toxic family’’ Moses said.
‘’After this unfortunate event, I began a
hunt with the proactive help of my uncle who was working with
an NGO so that at least I can be able to support my two brothers and
still feed myself’’. He continued.
Moses had a family of four to feed including himself and
the father all by himself. ‘’ I was offered a job in a mining
company where my father was also working and I felt like turning the
offer down but the needs couldn’t let me. Here, you were paid
according to your effort and if you were not so proactive then you
could end up with few Dollars that couldn’t even put food on the
table for two weeks’’. He exclaimed. For the first two weeks I
made some little money and together with the little help of my father,
our life steadily came back on track and we could at least take three
meals a day like other families’’.
‘’My father was a drunkard, he could hardly save money
from the mining job. However, since the death of my mother, he came
back to his senses and cut on his leisure. We raised money and within
some few months my brothers were able to go back to school through our
little support and the support from the Government’s Constituency
Development Funds’’. Moses narrated.
The African issue sometimes is difficult, you have to put
up with several problems along the way in order to make it in life.
The life that Moses wanted couldn’t get to him that easily. ‘’
This is not the kind of life that I prayed for my family to have. My
father remarried and shifted to live with his new wife in the small
town of Tutu. This was the beginning of another tough journey. With
the divided attention, he couldn’t provide enough to us. I had to
seek refuge from all the places I thought I can be able to establish a
life in’’ He said.
‘’I wanted to feed my family, support them and
complete what my mother started and to do this I had to think of ways.
I had to go somewhere. Somewhere that I can secure
a job that is stable enough to give my siblings all what they
needed. I heard stories from all over, how some
like USA and UK supported their youths in matters of
employment. The news that even the smallest job in UK can give you enough
money for daily expenses’’ He said.
‘’I had to now go and find a life out there just like
some of the friends that I used to play football with when I was in
High School. Most of them had already made it out there and it was
evident’’, He said.
His claims are true, you can be able to greatly
differentiate the life of those who worked broad and those struggling
with life in the DRC soil. A glance at his village proves this point.
His friends once lived in thatched huts but now they boast of homes
with concrete walls, some sporting DSTV dishes and running water. They
made it through the hard way but they have something which he
couldn’t find in their home country.
His friends’ families have also changed significantly,
their families can have 3 meals a day and they can also be able to
educate their children and siblings courtesy of remittances sent from
locals that are now floating in success in European countries. This is
the kind of life that Moses wanted. ‘’ Farming
is our mainstay in Congo but it’s not so reliable. You wait
for two years for cocoa plants
to mature before you start
earning any money from it’’ He said.
Moses had passed through a lot and now he had to choose
money over the family. He knew that even if he stayed close to his
family just to watch over and feed them with the little money he made
and farming, nothing good would come out of it. ‘’I
couldn’t sit down and watch things go on like this. My only friend
is now gone, he went to Europe and is now building nice houses, buying
good cars and has a happy family’’ He says. Lots of other people
in my locals’ are doing this and they were feeding me with their
success stories. They even promised to
connect me to a job in the UK if I was willing and able to work
there’’. He continued.
The fact that Moses had friends in Europe, most
specifically in the UK made his way through simple. ‘’ Days passed
and now one of my neighbors and a close relative
went to the UK for studies. He made it to the UK through a
government scholarship for masters. Every December holiday when he
came back to DRC he had all the sweet stories of how there are
of jobs in the UK even for those that required little academic
qualifications and a simple aspect of expertise. This
is what motivated me’ ’He continued.
Moses had to make an ultimate decision of joining his
friends and some of the relatives in the UK. ‘’I had to make that
decision and I started working and saving. At this point in time, my
siblings were suffering but we had to make that sacrifice for
once’’ He narrated.
After years of suffering, months of savings and sleepless
nights of hard work, the time had come for Moses to make his final
decision. ‘’I knew very many people in Europe and others
specifically in UK’’ He said.
‘’ After making this decision, I learned how to spend
less, save more and make more
money through side
hustles. It wasn’t easy because I had to sit back and watch
my family suffer. But what cleared the guilt that I was feeling is the
fact that I was looking forward to a breakthrough from this
of poverty’’ Moses said.
In his testimony, Moses explained how hard it was to raise
the required money to escape from his home country. ‘’ I suffered
a lot in this move, however, I embarked on selling electronics in my
home town and within a year, I was done with the savings, I had
already saved $3500 and I could wait no more. I wanted to see myself
in the gold country where I would wash away all my horrific
experiences’’ He explained.
‘’I wanted to connect with Dan, my close relative who
was already there and was now in his final semester in school. I knew
that he is the only person who can help me out through this journey.
Most of the other friends that I knew were too busy with their lives
and were therefore unreliable’’ He said.
to the UK
Now the day was near and Moses had to organize all the
required documents in order to fly to the UK. The funny thing is that he
had no enough money for all the expenses that would be encountered
through the entire journey. ‘’ I didn’t care about money any
more. I just wanted to pay for my legal documents and see myself out
of this place. That is all what I had in mind’’. He said.
‘’Throughout all this years of struggles, the day had
come and I felt I was ready. But every
time I stepped out of the gate and left my family behind I felt
something heavy pulling me back. Now I was burdening my aging
grandmother with a family that the father doesn’t know how it is fed
or even how we were surviving. That is life, I knew that one day I
all the debts that I had left behind’’ He continued.
‘’Despite the different opinions and different stands
in the family, all of them were gathered to watch me go. Some of them
didn’t want to let me go. I was at least helping
to raise money for the family’s basic needs but now that I was
gone, they felt like it would never come a time that all the suffering
will go away. All the time something worse was happening and I knew
everybody had lost hope. Nobody was confident with my decision’’.
‘’This was my major step in life, an important moment
that I had in my life. However, I hadn’t thought about how
significant it would be to my family. The problem is that my family
was split. My grandmother from my mother’s side had to stay with my
family and wait for a miracle from heaven. She hadn’t spoken to my
dad for years and so I knew things won’t be good’’ He continued.
‘’The life that I was waiting for was within a
touching distance. The familiar
life that’s in the UK was now close to me. I could see it and
figure out how good things would be in the near future. My sibling and
grandmother watched me as I sip my last cup of strong tea. That is all
we could afford for a goodbye meal’’ Moses narrated.
His grandmother just like other caring parents had to give
him a comprehensive advice through a lengthy conversation that they
held a moment before he left for the airport. Moses continued with his
story. ‘’There followed a careful conversation as my grandmother
and my younger brothers focused on me and the impending trip. I knew
that I couldn’t avoid my grandma pieces of good advice and generous
When the awkward time to leave came, my brothers were all
over me crying and missing me. They have never thought that of all the
people they could rely on am now gone. My mother was the only hope
when I was back in school, when she died I was left as the only hope
and I too was leaving them. I have had bad moments in my life but this
was my worst. The last time I cried was when I watched my brothers
drop out of school and go to work in a quarry’’. He continued.
‘’The world is so unsafe and my grandma thought that I
was supposed to stay and hustle in my country’’ People start
thinking that when you are going far away then you are just running
away from them’’ Though this is true, people have to run away,
away from the old version of life to a new one. ‘’I usually had a
feeling that my family was the best, what they do for me is enough,
but now I have to go and exploit my goals. That is the life men want,
the life of struggles but the life of making it ’’ Moses said.
Moses didn’t live far away from the capital city and
hence he only had a 2 hours’ drive to the airport. He
now knew that the journey to the UK has started and things are going
to change. ‘’When I left my grandmother and my brothers, things
changed, I got feelings of loneliness. There was that feeling fighting
me that made me feel like I was doing the wrong thing. However, I had
to go. I had to seek a better life and try to make ends meet. ‘’
The first flight experience is unforgettable by anybody.
Moses still had a clear picture of how things were in the airport and
how he got up in the air. ‘’ I still remember everything in
detail. The experience seems like yesterday. I feel like I have come
to the UK just the other day. The good thing is that I had made a
travel plan to travel with my longtime friend. He was a Nurse in the
UK and so I felt somewhat secure. I didn’t get lonely and things
were going on well. He had informed me that he booked a May flight and
so I had to do the same. To at least travel together with someone who
was familiar with experience.’’ He continued
‘’ This was my first flight and you can guess the
happiness. I and my friend were at the airport by 10 am. After some
chat I went for the security check. The flight was scheduled to leave
the country by 01:40 pm. The only stressful part of the checking was
when the security said that I had too much of the luggage that were
not allowed in the airplane. The airplane allows each person to have a
luggage of at most 23 kg. That was the worst experience and I had to
cut on the load and only leave the manageable and essential
things’’ Moses said.
‘’ Tired and weakened emotionally that I am leaving my
family that I had known for 23 years behind and flying to another
country that I had no information about, I had a hard time convincing
myself to board. The last few minutes were the most emotional times
that I have ever had in my life. The reality is that I have never
stayed away from my family except for those three months of an
academic semester’’ Moses said.
family and friends behind feels like a part of you has gone and is
lost completely. ‘’The feeling of comfort that I had with
family and friends couldn’t clear off my mind. ‘’ I have to
admit that there were a lot of emotional stages that came between the
day I made up my mind to leave the country and the time I was at the
airport. I was so filled with sadness, fear and a bit of excitement
backed by unexplained emotions’’. He said.
made up my mind and boarded the plane strongly covering my tears. I have never travelled by air and therefore
this was a whole new experience. An experience that I have never got
before. At first, the plane went on slowly on the runway and it just
felt like I was in a bus all this time. It eventually took an
about-turn and the speed increased gradually. This is the time I got
that strange feeling that I will be in the air for the next 9 hours.
The worst part of it is when the plane took off. It felt like I had
left a piece of me in Kinshasa and got in the air, just half of me. He
‘’The feeling in the air was breathe taking.
Everything that is on the ground was now fading away. The houses, the
land, trees and roads were now looking like lines, toys and so on. The
city became small and as the plane got high in the air, it eventually
faded away too and now we were in another world. A world without
trees, buildings, roads and other people rather than us in the plane.
The whole vicinity was made up of a solid fog. This made things worse
for me, knowing that you are floating in a place where there was no
tarmac or anything holding the plane’’ He narrated.
‘’The time flew and we were provided with food in the
airplane by air cabin crews with a great smile. This is something that
I have never thought happens in the air. So it caught me unawares. My
friend was used to it. It was a bit sad for me that we had secured
different seats on the plane and therefore we could not go chatting
and sharing experiences and stories. The food was quite good,
delicious and tasty’’ He said.
there was this old man sited on the seat next to me but he fell
asleep. I felt like I was all alone on the plane because everybody was
minding their own business.
However, there was this kid with her mum on the other hand and she was
all funny. She was a Congolese and we had a good talk and fun moment.
I wanted just to talk to someone and clear the scary feeling that I
was floating on air’’ ‘’ the plane engine was loud, it roared
and made me, more and more scared. My ears were humming as the plane
got high in the air although later on things changed and everything
got better’’ He said.
When a plane is landing, most of the people do not even
notice until the last one minute when it’s almost touching down.
This is the time that you feel like you are dropping from a tower but
it is not obviously as extreme. Moses continued narrating the story
that he still has in mind as if it happened yesterday. ‘’Time flew
fast and very soon we landed in the busy Birmingham airport. My ears
popped several times and this was very annoying. Birmingham airport
was awesome. Many planes were lined up maybe because this is an
international airport that dealt with planes from all corners of the
world. Our plane was at the 70 numbered stop and so you can imagine
the view. I must admit that I fell in love with the airport’’ He
airport was so busy and everybody was rushing from side to side. I have never seen such a huge and organized crowd of people. I am
used to the railway stations in my country where you have to sweat
finding your way from the busy crowd’’ He continued.
At least Moses had a companion, someone who had always
been in the area and knew all the corners of the city. Else he could
have got lost at one point or the other. ‘’ I had my friend with
me, at least he knew everywhere in the city and therefore I couldn’t
get lost. Dan knew that I had some company and so he was not in a
hurry to fetch me’’. After spending some few minutes in the
airport clearing some of the issues, we left the airport to the city.
This is something that I have never thought will ever happen in my
life. Making it to another world. When we got a taxi to a hotel where
we were supposed to spend our night, this is the time that reality
unfolded. A painful and a happy test of another country, another world
that I thought could wash all my struggles away. This is the time the
absence of my family, most especially my younger brothers pained me
the most. I knew that they were now suffering, they were alive
physically but probably emotionally dead. They had lost all hope but
still prayed for my success. I was all they had and I promised myself
that everything will be alright soon. I would have a better way of
supporting my siblings’’ He sobbed.
Moses knew that the past was not supposed to pull him down. He had all the determination of making it in life and making the dreams of his family back at home come to reality. ‘’I had already made up my mind. I think that is the reason why I had to admit the fact that they will suffer, but I wanted the suffering to be for a short period of time. I wanted to have a way of sending my brother who was 7 years old back to school. It pained me the most seeing him being sent home for fees and other upkeep money almost every trimester’’ He said.
The life in
‘’The life here in UK seemed quite the same as in my
country apart from the tall buildings and the busy crowd. I must admit
that the city was beautiful and I fell in love with it at the first
sight. This is the place where I had dreamed of. A place where there
is peace and political stability. People walked as if they had no
problems at all. The police were busy but busy walking around. In my
country they were busy chasing criminals’’ He continued. ‘’The
city looked so beautiful even in the night. With well-maintained
streets, roads and tall government and private structures. It looked
like a small heaven for a person like me. The excitement ran over me
and I even fell asleep in the taxi and missed a clear night shot of
the city’’ He said.
how difficult things get, the feeling of achieving your dreams is
always prime. ‘’ I had made it this far and a feeling
of excitement had overtaken me. I could just smile and forget all the
worries that I had experienced before’’ He continued.
Even if the step made is small but puts you closer to
achieving what you want in life, you
will rediscover that little sparks of excitement will spur you unto
the next step towards achieving your goals.
‘’It was difficult when I first arrived and it took
time for me to settle. Things were different from the experiences at
home and hence it couldn’t be easy. The streets were confusing and
my time walking around was overwhelming. I settled with Dan in the
hostels for some time before I could get a clear picture of the city
and eventually do what brought me in this country’ ’He said.
‘’The next week when I had settled completely, I got
up and couldn’t wait to see what it was like here in this beautiful
country. Even though I was a little anxious, I looked at my new
surroundings and felt at home. The place was different. Everyone and
everything anywhere seemed so new to me. As the time gradually moved,
I learned several things. I remember the people here were kind, kinder
than I thought. This is the main thing that made me understand the
surrounding and be understood as well’’ He explained.
‘’the culture was different, life was different and I
had to appreciate several aspects of life in the UK so that I can have
an easy time here. Gradually, I became more accustomed to the
surrounding and different cultures. I came to accept people around and
their life. People in the UK had a different way of life. Unlike in DRC where
people lived an open life, here people were a bit private. You
wouldn’t trespass without a valid reason. Sometimes you could get
yourself in trouble by making the slightest mistakes’’ He
Life in another country can be overwhelming. You have to
put up with their language and accept most of the things. Moses had a
good time because he had already learned enough English in college
back at home. ‘’ I didn’t struggle a lot, I am good in English
and therefore communication was easy. I saw some of the people
struggle here simply because they didn’t know how to communicate.
Dan was one of them, when he came to the UK, he didn’t really know
enough of English language and it was very hard. He was a student, how
the hell could he make it without some basics in English. How would he
approach those exams that he had to explain answers in English? Life
was difficult, he had to carry a dictionary every lesson and had to
look up words just to ask questions. With me things were easy, I could
communicate with drivers, the police and even those people that I met
in café or sometimes Dan’s roommates’’ He said.
‘’ The environment was especially secure and the
people too were friendly. I felt that I shouldn’t be afraid because
I was making a couple of friends a day. We could learn from each other
and therefore things got easy for me. The most important thing that I
like to talk about is that I felt secure and started to feel like UK
was my other sweet home’’ Moses said.
challenges in the UK
Relocating abroad can sometimes turn out to be harder than
you anticipated. Moses was no exception. He had to deal with some of
the main challenges and some of them were life threatening. ‘’One
of my worst problem is that I was living with Dan. He is a student who
had little money and therefore we could sometimes cut so much on our
expenses to spare something for tomorrow. I felt like I was burdening
him and therefore this made things difficult for me. Sometimes I felt
like moving out but had nowhere else to go. That is life and good
thing he was understanding. This made me relax a bit’’ Moses
Moving around and confronting your life in a foreign
country without a due familiarity with the legal procedures and
processes can sometimes be challenging. Sometimes there are those
requirements that you need to register for one thing or the other in
order to fulfill certain country requirements. This was also a
challenging issue to Moses. ‘’I found myself in confrontations
with the UK police simply because of things I didn’t even
understand. The problem was familiarity with the legal requirements of
the country. I found myself trespassing in some premises or other time
omitting security checks. This was a problem but later I came to
familiarize with everything and now I know all what is legally
required from me. I can be able to go anywhere without worries. At
times I had to stay indoors for the fear of getting in trouble’’
Day after day of cold weather my sound idyllic. Perhaps
the unexpected cold of the UK winter that sometimes catches people off
guard. ‘’ Africa is
hot. I remember we spent all our days back at home with vests and
T-shirts on. That is not the case here. When
I first landed in this country, I didn’t think of weather as a
factor to consider. The problem is it got so cold some of the time
and made it impossible for me to step outside.
The saying goes-no man is an island. You cannot live on
your own and so you need to find social outlets. You need to have
friends that will give meaning to your life. ‘’
After I left the already established network of friends back home, the
first few weeks in the UK were manned with loneliness. I only had to
spend my time in the house and sometimes taking a walk some meters
from home because I wasn’t used to the environment. Dan was always
busy with school things and therefore I couldn’t have enough time
with him. I had to fill the gap and find another social network.
However, filling the gap with new friends and activities was difficult
in the UK. The accent was different and I couldn’t sometimes get
what someone is saying correctly. The good thing is that I could speak
English fluently and with time things were normal and I could
communicate with most people’’ He explained.
‘’Talk about missing the family. The last three months
of my stay in the UK was characterized with thoughts and memories from
all the activities and the moments that we shared with my old
grandmother. She would cook delicious meals and always advise us on
every matter that she thought was relevant. I hear people talking
about Skype and other video call tools. Those are things that are not
known by locals in my area and therefore there was no visual
communication. You can agree with me that separating with family is
the hardest part of living abroad’’ He said.
Too often people’s money-spinning schemes hardly allow
them to survive the turbulence
of a financial crisis abroad. Adding the pressure of money worries
to the simple life and the beauty of UK is a very overwhelming issue.
Moses knew that whatever opportunity he opted to pursue, it was to be
sustainable. ‘’ I only had just enough money to survive for a
couple of months and at this point, finding
a job was my number one priority. I must be lucky because the
second restaurant I sought work in happened to be a Chinese restaurant
that had some openings’’ He said.
‘’The restaurant had a kitchen porter role
available and I was ecstatic. We agreed on a test shift later in the
week before I was offered the task. I was a good cook and I took most of the kitchen roles at home. In addition, I had done a
certificate in hospitality and catering. This was an additional remark
that got me the job without due struggles’’ He continued.
Moses had made it to the next step but he couldn’t have
enough confidence in himself ‘’I had limited experience since I
had done some kitchen roles
one time or the other in the past but I wasn’t very sure that I can
offer satisfying services. However, the need for a job had overtook me
and I had to jump at any opportunity that came my way’ ’He said
The day had come and he had to be set for the test. ‘’
I was a little confused at first. I experienced what I was supposed to
do simply by watching other
people do it in the restaurant and I wanted to be part of the
team. Most of the people that worked in that restaurant were not from
UK, it was a combination of people from different parts of the world.
I was the only black person in the team and I found it as an honor to
work in a Chinese restaurant’’. He continued.
The head chef checked the Rota and found me an odd hour here and there. After some few days working in the restaurant, I got employed permanently. The restaurant was undergoing a massive recruitment and I wasn’t the only new person working there’’ He continued.
in the kitchen
‘’ I think the supervisor knew I understood how it
works, he didn’t even pay much attention on the way I did the work.
I can bet he was just looking at the way I carried myself. I have to
admit that I am the most thankful person in the entire world for
having a rewarding resume of my life. I had the most diverse
experience of my life’s journey. The work was good and tedious at the same time. It attracted a good
pay for me and this motivated me to work even harder. On the other
hand as even the most qualified person can tell you, sometimes I had
to start from the ground and get my hands dirty’’ He narrated.
At times doing something for the first time can be
challenging. What Moses liked about his job is that he had some
natural qualifications in particular areas. ‘’ I liked the fact
that even if I forced myself to find anything to say about my area of
experience is that I am qualified in some areas of the kitchen that
mostly do not need any
experience’’ He said.
‘’This was a Chinese restaurant and you understand
well how Chinese dishes are complicated. It was good to learn about
the areas of kitchen and the kind of the utensils that they were using
because that is what I was mandated to neatly maintain’’ He said.
‘’When I first heard of a kitchen steward, I wondered if anybody else has ever done this job
and if yes then what was it like. I have heard from friends around
here that it was a little crappy but I just needed more opinions. I had to load and unload dishes, do the salads and fetch some
things from the store. I don’t think this is all what the job was
about’’ He said.
‘’Sometimes the job is tedious. I felt like giving up.
Standing for 9
hours in a day was quite tiring’’ At one time I thought of
giving up but things were tough for me. I was willing to do any work
as long as I am paid enough money’’. Moses sobbed.
I am standing in Moses’s shoes and they are moist. I
could notice the sweat running down the small of his back and dripping
down into his eyes. That is the life that he came to England to seek.
He wanted financial
freedom and now he has a chance of making
the money he wanted.
Being a kitchen
steward or Kitchen porter (KP) is a very demanding job. ‘’ I
had to work three nights in a row and I came home sometimes past 11
pm. Other times I sleep until 2am and I am up again. This
was the most difficult job of my life. On the other hand the
salary was the best that I have ever had. That is why I held on so
long. The overall experience for me was fun’’. He said.
‘’It was an easy job for me with pretty good pay. But
when there is so much work to do I can tell you that it gets so
hard… you have dirty water
absorbing in your hands and sometimes dealing with dirty issues in the
hotel. Constantly moving and working the whole shift. Not
getting time to rest was a common thing simply because we were only
two kitchen porters in the whole restaurant that was so busy. What
this means is that you can work
up to 8+ hours without a break. I think you can imagine the kind
of experience that I had here before I got used to some of the things.
‘’ One of the many problems that I experienced was
that the restaurant didn’t have the service staff and hence they
will leave food on plates for me to deal with. They will pickle dishes
haphazardly in the sink, making the stack to top and worst of all I
had to deal with them alone. Apart from helping, they would just stand
there and chat with each other’’. He said.
Though being a Kitchen
porter or Kitchen assistant Moses found himself fast becoming an
integral part of the Chinese restaurant. He had proven enough that he
can be dependable and reliable. The skills he had obtained throughout
his time working in the restaurant had provided a great platform for
his career within hospitality. He has gradually become a valuable asset
to the company. He had since then been recognized as a valid member of
the team and praised for his hard work and commitment by the
restaurant management. ‘’My Chinese supervisor gained some trusts
in me and couldn’t anymore spend a lot of time supervising my every
step. This is how things went, I even thought I was lucky because my
starting salary was $2 per hour. Working for 10 hours in a day could
attract a whopping $20 dollars in a day. That was beyond what a
primary school teacher in my country made in a day. As the day went, I
was getting a higher daily pay because I proved to be productive and
valuable to the restaurant. One thing that motivated me was the need for money. I didn’t want to attract any penalties that could
at one point or the other lead to a cut in my salary. Again I wanted
to always keep my job. I didn’t want to offend the management and
end up being fired’’ He explained.
‘’A few weeks into the job, I had made enough money to rent a room and live on my own. Most of
the time I stood at the balcony and thought about my people back at
home. How life is taking them and if they really missed me. It is
sometimes so difficult to explain what it feels like to confront the
possibility of never meeting some of the family and friends
again’’ Moses said.
An official of the Britain government document has
admitted that very many people are migrating
to Britain and working illegally in the country. The document says
that the main reason is that there is ease
of immigrants getting work in some fields such as catering,
hospitality and agriculture.
An official from Gerda National Immigration Bureau said that the
penalty of getting and staying in the UK illegally could result to up
to $25,000. Moses knew that he wasn’t coming to the UK to stay. That
is what his documents said. But now he has to stay. To stay and make
his ends meet. ‘’ I knew that my employer was worried about me.
The legal provisions were so strict and therefore I had to know what
to do. Things got hot one day when I received a notification message
from the restaurant human resource manager requesting that I bring my
passport in the next shift for immigration check. My Visa had already
expired and I could do nothing about it.’’ He said.
Every employer in the UK is greatly cautious of the
nationality and the legality of employees they get in touch with. The
laws are quite clear that every employer should have a workforce of
legal immigrants or the local residents. ‘’I didn’t have a valid
passport and knew I could be deported at any moment. My stay in the UK
had already expired and I didn’t have money to follow all the legal
procedures to legalize my stay here. I knew that I had to leave my
job. With no job I couldn’t be able to pay my rent and soon I could
be homeless’’ I already could have been homeless if not for the
Kindness of Dan from the time I landed in the UK, He lived with me for
quite a while and I valued his friendship’’ He explained.
Since Moses had stayed in the country for more than the
required time, He had to live beneath the radar of British life
without any official documentation ‘’ this is how you live if you
know you are undocumented’’, he tells me ‘’ you are constantly
worried and always in the hideout’’ he said.
Moses didn’t have a settled life, this was his main
challenge. But he had a soul mate whom they worked in the same
restaurant. ‘’The bad thing is that I hadn’t settled yet. One of
my friends was advising me to get married and apply for a spouse visa
which I could move legally with in the UK. This was a good idea. But
how could I get out in the light. I was already undocumented and
thought that I couldn’t realize my stay in the UK’’ He said.
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‘’ I knew that once I present my passport to the
restaurant authorities I would be deported back to DRC. I had to start
looking for another job and I promised myself that I would give it a
try. I embarked on another journey. Thank God my manager was occupied
and he didn’t ask for the passport for another 2 months’’.
‘’ After days of moving from hotel to hotel, I was offered an
Offer to work in a chicken inn. The task here was a little bit simple
but you had to come to terms with the relatively low salary. However,
better earn a little in the UK than being thrown back to DRC. That
could be a lost opportunity and I didn’t want it to look that
way’’ He said.
‘’ Months passed and eventually I had stayed in the UK
for one year. My girlfriend got pregnant and I thought things were
getting worse. Although I was now established and settled things, I
thought that I would be exposed to the legal registration of the child
when born’’ He told me.
I met a friend who was so good at following up with things
three months later who directed us with the mother of my two kids.
Things ran fast and I couldn’t track a clear line of events from
that time. He knew all these things and so I couldn’t explain how
they went’’ He said to me.
I wanted to ensure that everything is in line with the
legal provisions in the UK. However, if not for the kindness of
in-laws and friends, then things could have gotten worse and maybe I
could end up in my Village in Goma DRC’’ He said.
Moses was now close to the promised life. ‘’I now
thought of applying for permanent residence card and live stress free
here. That is what followed. Since I was now legally married to a UK
citizen, things were not difficult. I had to do things one at a time.
The good thing with my job is that I had mostly night shifts and
therefore I was free during the day. I could finalize all my
documentation steps without a problem. Later in the month I and my now
legal wife went to the government’s registrar and started the
process’’ He narrated.
Sometimes the procedures and the interviews can be
overwhelming. ‘’I got my permanent residence card. The questions
were tough. One question was being repeated about four times in one
hour. That was the worst interview that I have ever done’’ He told
What I know is that even with a veteran immigration
attorney present, the immigration citizen spouses were thoroughly
interrogated. ‘’ I had the worst of my days. However, the case was
approved but only after a pretty tough experience in the offices. What
worried me most was the fact that when applying for permanent UK
residence card, there were tax issues, the background check, medical
examinations and several other matters that were taken into account.
What would happen if I failed any of those...? I already had a family
and I honestly don’t know how I could feed and dress them’’ He
‘I had to go through a lot to secure my permanent stay
in the UK, I had to incur a lot of money too in order to get my HSMP
Visa, sometimes renewing it, and then apply for permanent residency,
citizenship. The life was tough, I had to fill forms, apply for
consulates and get visas through tedious and costly procedures. But
now I am a very happy duo citizen’ ’He said.
This is what built my confidence and I could move around
the city with friends.
The question of getting promoted at your work place is not
a question of how much time you spend working but the respect you earn
inside the kitchen. ‘’I was so focused at paying my rent, sending
something to my grandmother back at home until I forgot things about
promotion and other issues at work. I had worked for about 16 months
before that thing got into my mind’’ He said.
The grass is
always greener on the other side
‘’When my wife could no longer work due to the baby
she was carrying, the whole family burden fell on me. I had to work
extra and make some part-time money to sustain the growing
responsibilities. One person recommended me to another nearby club and
restaurant. Here I started earning up to $11 in an hour. The club
didn’t have a time limit and you could work for as long as you are
comfortable. I used to work for up to 12 hours in the day. The salary
was quite good for me. Making $100 in a day was a dream. I could pay
for my rent in a one bedroom house that I was staying in Birmingham
and still have 2/3 of my income left for other things’’ He said.
‘’I had to
apply for a diploma part time program in a University in Birmingham. I
applied to study Hospitality and tourism. My work got me some extra
cash that I used to fund my school fees for the two years’’
Although my wife had already delivered and our baby girl was growing
up well, I knew that in this country you have to keep on upgrading
your knowledge through education. This is how you will be recognized
and considered for higher positions in the labor market’’
‘’Although studying meant devoting hours and hours every day
mingling with books in the library and attending classes, I had to
work extra hard. Sometimes spend some sleepless nights in the club
working and the day in class. I could give myself a break for about 1
hour and sleep. Missing one or two classes wasn’t a big issue. Again
being a student meant that I spent most of my time out doing research.
My place of work was one of my research areas and at times I had to
multitask, regress it during the day and end up submitting the
research to my professor on the weekend’’ Moses told me.
‘’Nonetheless, from my personal experience in Britain,
you have to work and study at the same time. There
are very many opportunities of part time jobs which can be an
inevitable way of digging into the local culture , earn some much
needed money and expand your network in their country’’. He said.
‘’The good thing about these countries is that once
you are learned and you practice, you automatically get recognized. I
got a chance of applying for work in some of the biggest restaurants
in London and my experience is a matter of recognition. After some few
months of delivering my CV in almost every top rated restaurant in
Birmingham and London, I got an invitation for the interview. I had
stabilized and learnt enough from my stay in London. Therefore, going
for an interview was one of the things that I was used to. I had more
than 5 interview experiences in my life time and this meant I really
didn’t have to prepare much’’ He explained.
Moses knew that life needed a lot of commitments, so that
he could make something out of it. ‘’I managed to get a job. A
very good job that I characterize as one of my major blessing in life.
Attracting a salary of up to $6000 in a month is something that I
wanted for my life’’. He said.
‘’My daughter can now attend some of the best schools.
She has smart reports from the school and now am a proud father. That
is what every person would want for their children’’.’’ It has
got to a point I no longer think of myself as an immigrant. I think as
a UK citizen since I have made it through the courtesy of this
beautiful country’’ He said. ‘’As I was living my life in
Britain, I have learnt that I couldn’t afford to make mistakes. The
mistakes that I have already made were enough. I never want to
underestimate the power of determination. I couldn’t afford to fail
at school or even lose my job. That is what hard work and success
means’’. He said.
It is not enough, Moses knew that success never comes easy and he in fact needed to be extra cautious
with life. ‘’I know what life is like, I have experienced a lot
that I couldn’t want my children to undergo. I couldn’t afford
some of the basic needs. That is not what I wanted for my children. I
wanted them to afford quality education and have all their basic
demands met. I undertake investments
now and then. I know what investing
means. I know the power of having private property
that can earn
you some extra coins at the end of the month. Now that I have
been in the UK for 12 years, I have struggled a lot, I have made the
most exemplary sacrifices in the world. I have been working here for 5
years now. I have at least settled most of my family debts
and I want to embark on a comprehensive investment
plan. I am currently in a plan to build and establish my own
small restaurant in Marlborough’’. He told me.
‘’I was a
performer in school and that is why I got a scholarship from a bank
that catered for my education back at home. What about my brothers?
Should I leave them to get lost in the darkness of ignorance and lack
of basic education? That is not what I wanted’’. I wanted to go
home and visit them one of the days. I have been sponsoring my younger
brother’s education and now he is in his first year in the
university. He has a future that everyone can see and smile about.
That is all I could do. My grandmother is aging, she cannot even take
good care of herself, but am sure her heart is always full of joy. She
is not struggling with issues concerning her grandsons any more. I am
sure she has waited enough, she has held on so long and she never
thought that I can make it the way I did. We had already lost hope
when we were all in the quarry back then’’. He narrated.
How his life
‘’Long journey of tremendous hardship, getting
sleepless nights some happy moments, struggles and failures, but I
chose to fight all along’’. ‘’Now I feel that at least I have
enough money to share a cup of coffee or even buy my own tea bag and
even get hot water at McDonald. This is what UK has made me. I can now
go to work and be confident when I sit down and serve people. Life
is not a walk in the park, it’s full of struggles. Moses told
Moses has witnessed violence and violation of human rights
in his mother country and he refused to lie about it. We are trying to
find the right words for what was happening in DRC at that time.
‘’DRC is my mother country, I can never forget my people back
home. More so now that I can afford a flight at least twice a year. I
usually go and check on them, both my brothers and grandma and
sometimes those old friends. Now the country is calm, you can afford
to get the political asylum that is needed and it’s a good thing. I
usually like seeing my friends with a smile, the government
politically stable to serve my friends back at home’’. He said.
His car now sits there challenging us to always work and
make it as he did. He can now be able to drive on the highways
confidently knowing that he is in a legal status in the country. He
said. ‘’I am now confident with my life. I can be able to afford
the basic needs and be more confident while moving around. I also have
a world class NHS to look after me. In fact, I can sit comfortably and
say that I live a luxurious life compared to the one my people are
living back at home. I am very happy that I came to the UK. A new
country with new life and new educative challenges’’ He told me.
United Kingdom is a country that has continually been
infused with new comers. The challenges that most of the people face
while in a foreign country are painful. Listening to a story of
someone who escaped from their mother country and ends up in a far
much worse situation in a foreign country are quite common. Moses’s
study is an inspiration. He had a relatively smooth journey to the UK.
Most of the migrants do not make it as easy as He did. ‘’My story
of immigration is tied to despair, pain and anguish that is yet to
heal. Throughout the years, some of my brothers had to suffer a lot. I
got the life here in London wishing that one day I would have a family
and project my children to the love I missed. Growing up, I wanted to
make as many friends as possible. Friends from every corner of the
world and from every religious and backgrounds. Were it not for
friends, I wouldn’t be where I am now. I had to sometimes survive
and go through the challenges of life through their support’’. He
In this world,
no man is an island. You cannot live on your own, you cannot even put
up with life if you don’t have friends to support you.’’ I can
never forget Dan, he sacrificed a lot for my success. He is now an
educated man working in Los Angeles. He has a happy family and I count
that a blessing. If not for him then I would still be in DRC
Struggling with life.’’ He said.
‘’ I was fortunate to have received education that
opened many doors for me. What this means is that education is the
best investment that someone can take. You can lose your job
but you cannot lose the knowledge in your head. Things can turn upside
down and if you have something in your head that you can present in
front of your employers then you are good’’ He told me. ‘’I am
now privileged to work alongside some of the most qualified and
dedicated colleagues. The work is not as tiresome as it was
immediately I got into UK’’ He narrated.
‘’I feel fortunate to have been there to see my mother
struggle with life and still she made it to raise us all on her own.
This is what made me harden. I don’t give up just yet. I was taught
to hold on until I make it in life’’ He said.
I gained courage out of it. One of the unfortunate
consequences of being an immigrant is that you have to prove yourself.
I didn’t want those people at home to think that I was taking my
family for a ride. I had to prove that I went for greener pastures and
that is what everybody wanted to see’’ He narrated.
Like most of the people, Moses didn’t know what life
held for his future. He didn’t think that parents had a vital
influence on someone’s life. Until now that he misses them that he
wishes he was close to them. ‘’ As an adult working here in
London, I have come to realize how much my parents and their
experiences could have impacted me’’.
Some of the immigrants in the UK have achieved their
‘’white dream’’ while there are those that end up miserable.
Now he can be able to feed his family, feed his two young brother, and
support his other brother and his grandmother back at home.
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