Mohammad was only five years old when the Somali Civil War drove his parents away, forcing young Mohammad to live out the rest of his childhood without knowing his own mom and dad. He was taken in by his grandmother, who feared for his safety as a young child.
One afternoon, Mohammad’s grandmother answered her door and was confronted by an armed opposition group. They commanded her to send Mohammad, now 13 years old, to become a soldier in their ranks.
At the age of 13, Mohammad faced a decision that most of us will never have to make – to stay in Somalia and become a child soldier, or to flee his home and seek refuge in an unfamiliar place. Mohammad chose the latter.
Smugglers brought Mohammad out of Somalia and into Thailand. On his route, Mohammad was highly vulnerable to exploitation because he was an unaccompanied minor with few resources. Along the way, his smuggler stole his Somali passport, so Mohammad entered Thailand as an undocumented child.
After arriving in Thailand, Mohammad prevailed – he attended school and become a standout soccer player. A dedicated student athlete, Mohammad traveled around Thailand to participate in tournaments with his soccer team. On one such school trip, Mohammad was detained by the Thai immigration police on the grounds that he was an undocumented migrant.
At the age of 16, Mohammad was once again facing two impossible options: being deported back to Somalia or staying prisoner to the harsh living conditions of the Thai detention centers.
Asylum Access brought Mohammad’s case to the Thai court and ultimately earned Mohammad the lawful right to live outside of the squalid detention centers and receive an education on par with his peers. Mohammad’s case was successfully resolved and he is now living as a teenager should be – playing soccer with his friends, receiving an education and safely residing in his community.