Our Africa team researcher Yowali shares her take on what motivates her to volunteer with Asylos.

I recently made a big move from Belgium to Canada, and my new routine has given me little to no time for extra activities. Saturdays and Sundays are the only days during which I have enough time to clean the apartment, do my laundry, go grocery shopping and meal prep for the rest of the week. 

Despite my busy schedule, there’s one activity I haven’t given up on yet: volunteering for Asylos. Asylum procedures, which have been drastically shortened throughout Europe, and limited legal aid budgets don’t allow resources or time for sufficient research. To prevent life-altering asylum decisions from being made without a complete picture of the situation of the claimant and circumstances in the country of origin, Asylos conducts background research that forms the evidence base for asylum decisions.

Immigration is part of my story, and I could never shy away from it.

Volunteer researchers, like me, investigate specific claims by conducting research in 25+ languages and gathering relevant information from NGOs, states, news agencies, and by interviewing individuals with substantive knowledge on the subject matter. We provide valuable, reliable information lawyers and caseworkers can use to defend their clients’ claims in courts across and beyond Europe. And because we do it remotely, I can keep volunteering from anywhere in the world, no matter how far I move.

I cannot tell you how much I value the work Asylos does. Immigration is part of my story, and I could never shy away from it. My father immigrated to Belgium from the Democratic Republic of the Congo when he was younger than I am now. Since, he has built a life many ‘traditional Belgians’ would envy. He was tenacious, hard-working and committed to improving his lot in life. Today, I too experience the challenges many immigrants and refugees face when settling in a new country. But what I experience pales in comparison to the systemic legal obstacles and hoops through which asylum seekers must jump every day.

Asylos gives me a reason and means to put use my skills to help those whom our legal system would happily ignore.

We all lead busy lives, which make it difficult to consider the experiences of others. It’s easy to close your eyes and forget about the refugee camp just beyond the city limits. Asylos gives me a reason and means to use my skills to help those whom our legal system cannot sufficiently support.

Whether you request an Asylos report, volunteer to research for them, or donate to help more refugees, you’re becoming part of a movement dedicated to strengthening immigration justice. What you give is more than just your time or money, it’s a chance for someone to have a fair hearing and a better future.

A version of this article was initially published on the Curious Métisse, Yowali's personal blog.