Some of you will remember our ‘elective mute’ child, ‘Tila’, and her mother ‘Serena’ who is from Burkina Faso. Serena was trafficked and then abandoned after Tila was born. Tila comes into my children’s church and great was the rejoicing when she started to say a word here and there.

Tila has now been assessed, and the medical opinion is that her behaviour is not autistic in origin. It is not genetic, and is therefore likely to be traumatic. Her mother has noticed that when they are in a room with unknown men, Tila, who is 4, will climb on her knee and go to sleep.

Serena has been appealing to stay in this country. She does not wish to return to her village in Burkina Faso where Tila will not have security or medical care. She has been to the court 5 times, and in March a group of us from the church went with her for her hearing at a Second Tier Tribunal. The judge said that he wanted to know more about Tila’s father, and that Serena was to return to court later.

As this man has disappeared without trace, and apparently had a number of women and children (round here they talk about ‘baby-mothers’ and ‘baby-fathers’), Serena had no further evidence to bring. Another hearing was scheduled for this morning. I don’t know quite what they thought of us in the waiting room, when we stood around her to pray: but as there were both men’s and women’s (Muslim) prayer rooms but interestingly, no Christian worship space, we reckon we were within our spiritual rights!

Again we all trooped down. Again we waited for over an hour. Again the judge spent 3 minutes on the judgement. Interestingly, he apologised. He said that neither he as judge nor the Home Office had fulfilled the requirements of the law, as they had not taken little Tila’s well-being into consideration.

The case is now to go back to the Home Office, and start all over again.

It is very disappointing, but not as bad as we all feared, which is for her to be deported. Her life back in Burkina Faso will be untenable – as the Christian convert of a Muslim family, she may be in danger: and Tila’s muteness could well be interpreted by folks in her village as evidence of her possession by an evil spirit. It doesn’t bear thinking about.

So we all wait – again. First there will be a letter from the judge, putting his ruling in writing. Then eventually a letter will arrive from the Home Office with their decision. If this decision goes against Serena, she will still have the right to appeal.

It is not good news, but it is not bad either – and the Immigration Advisory Service had come up with a good barrister this time. We hope he will continue to handle her case.

Waiting ….. waiting[1]


16 thoughts on “IN COURT ALL MORNING

  1. I am sure that for you, the process is exasperating. And that often you see things clearly, and wonder why the mechanism of the state is so slow to accept what is obvious to you. But your work is an example and lesson for all of us, that the state with all its power, and all its high ideals, can’t deal with many of the intricacies that are part of the lives of individuals. It’s a mistake for us to wash our hands, and say, let the state take care of them. When face to face with distress… that is the time to love our fellow man as we do ourselves.


  2. A terrible situation for mother and child. I’m sure your support and the support of your church will give Serena strength. Surely the welfare of the child and her mother must be the first consideration.



    1. You would think so … but the rules about residency are so strict, and they have to be, with so many people moaning that we have too much immigration! The legal eagles just do their job – they have to apply the law, not be sympathetic. Even so …


  3. 1. Time some prevailing religion prayer-rooms or spaces were made available. How about a multi-faith space. P.C. works more than one way. It does suggest to me that the prevailing offender and civil court use in your area is predominantly from one culture.

    2. I still think the judiciary are playing for time here, though I am not sure quite why. As time passes, legal focus on Tila’s well-being appear to be growing, it seems useful just now. Could that change? Is her mother coping?


    1. Serena is a quiet person and says nothing, but we could tell she was disappointed and frustrated. She has great faith, however, which is keeping her sane, along with her involvement with the church family who are hugely supportive.

      I think the legal situation is that the law has been changed recently, and is only starting to be implemented now. I get the impression that the legal eagles are just doing their jobs. The human cost is to be deplored, but at least she has some recourse.


  4. Oddly enough….Certainly, ironic…..when cases are deferred…referred….adjourned…postponed….:roll:…One should see it as a ‘positive’…..:yes: ;)xx


    1. So hard for her, though: not able to plan: a kind of ‘half-life’ … I am glad I’ve been able to access funding to send her on a holiday soon. Give her a break!


  5. What an exhausting and traumatic procedure for both Mother and child. There was a made for TV drama on BBC this past Sunday about the traficking of children. Oh my goodness, Gilly it’s an absolute nightmare what’s going on, and often right under our eyes!
    Let’s hope this gives them more of the right kind of time, and that having a good barrister will make the difference.


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