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  I didn't think I'd survive the journey
Updated 26 June 2002, 19.07
Rasim plays on a computer
Rasim Muharremi left behind his mum, sisters and brother in search for a better future in the UK.

He left Kosovo nearly three years ago. Here he explains how - and why.

"It was terrible in Kosovo - I couldn't do anything about it myself so I thought I had to leave and go to a place where I could get help.

Guns in the street

There were two problems. First the war which was terrible, it was very frightening - children would play on the street with guns.

Secondly we didn't have any schools. If we wanted to go and learn we had to pay a tutor and go to their house. They'd teach us for an hour, but that would be it.

My dad's dead but my mother, two sisters and brother are still there.

Frightened and scared

I spoke to my mum and told her I couldn't live in Kosovo anymore.

But she said I couldn't leave on my own, so my family decided I would go to England with my cousin.

I was frightened on the journey but my mum paid some people to look after us.

Hoping for England

We travelled in one lorry during the day and then changed to another one at night. I was only wearing shorts and a t-shirt and I was freezing cold.

I was frightened because I didn't know which country I was going to end up in.

I realised it was England because the cars drove on a different side of the road.

I begged someone to give me 20p to call my relative in Kosovo. He told me to get someone on the street to come to the phone and talk to him.

Good school

This is how I found out we were in Birmingham! We went to a train station and it took my cousin who lives in London two hours to find us.

I was very happy when I found him.

I didn't know any English when I arrived here and now I'm at a really good school called Fortismere Secondary School.

I don't think it's a good idea to teach refugee children at separate schools, because refugee children all speak different languages and then you'll never learn English."

Rasim Muharremi, 15, London

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