Conflict: Two Countries, Two Families

Conflict: Two Countries, Two Families

Awaiting asylum decision.

"You see, I am tortured." Tomy landed in America from Cameroon on April 2, 2015. He and his wife sought asylum due to government persecution based on her private documentary. It was focused on homosexuality in a country where homosexuality is illegal. "But we have a lot of government officials who are bisexual or gay. She had some testimonies, pictures." Tomy continued, “The government started with soft pressure but she didn't give up. It was bad on her. She lost the first baby we had together. She was arrested, beat up and as a result she lost the baby."

He says, even after that, the government was spying on her. "A year after she lost the first baby, she got pregnant again, and they started doing it again." Tomy says he decided they couldn't risk losing another baby. He left for another town by himself so he wouldn't raise suspicion. She moved there two weeks later. He said his brother who had been enrolled in the U.S. Navy was having a graduation in the United States. That made it convenient to come to America. "Then we filed for asylum. Our case is pending."

But Tomy has three children still back home in his country. For his family’s safety, his full name is withheld. "They are my blood. I sleep but I don't sleep. I am thinking about them." He said to his wife, "You are safe now. Let me go back and get them." But his immigration lawyer said if he left the country it would be harder to get back in. "He advised me to be patient and let the process work."

Tomy is the elder son of his father's third wife. "That puts you in a spot. You are the elder and you have to succeed." When Tomy arrived in America he had no means of support and had to rely on his sisters who were already in America. "This is a reversal — a big problem. Also the elder is not supposed to leave the country.”

He says for the first 3-4 months in America his focus was on his pregnant wife. "This was probably the hardest time. We'd heard a lot of things about expensive health care in America and didn't know who would pay for the baby. But we were lucky that the state of Maryland paid." But during this time he had to rely on his sisters. "They started to get an attitude. It became harder for them. It's not common in our country. It was humiliating for me."

Tomy has worked as a dishwasher and a server and applied for a position at a university as a clinical research coordinator. "I was a good fit but they kept asking did I have a green card, not about my knowledge and skill and finally I didn't get the job." Tomy had been trained as a general physician in Cameroon which requires seven years of advanced training. He says he is the son of two nurses and loves to help people. "I've been looking to do family health."

There are good things and bad things in America. He was working seven days a week but things are better now and he is paying for his own lease. His sisters don't have to contribute anymore. "I do believe when you are still alive things can happen. There are good things and bad in any country you are in. And in my country of Cameroon as a man with a high degree I should rise up my country. Who will do it if I leave?"

But he has left. He says he was willing to fight. However, he explains when you get married you have to think beyond yourself. And now that he has left Cameroon it would be worse for him if he went back because they would be suspicious because he went to America. His wife is working as a cook "and she is not well at all. She was shining, joyful but not anymore. I don't expect things to be easy. I'm willing to take a chance."