Gareth's Story

I was imprisoned in Kuwait in 2008, after having lived in the country for five years. The trauma and shock was almost too much for me to take. It is incredibly tough but day by day I am managing to cope.

I was initially thrown into a very bleak communal cell sharing three to a bed with no spare clothes or toiletries. I was then moved into a less crowded location but still a frightening cultural shock.

In prison the cultural differences are incredibly challenging and I have had to adapt quickly to fit in. Religious influences have been a difficult obstacle and naturally language has been awkward, regardless of having spent a considerable amount of time in the country. The racial differences are significant and play a huge part in prison hierarchy; it is an experience like no other. 

There is a broad range of living conditions here, mostly dependent on behaviour, educational level and positive attitude or not. Due to my health, I regularly visit the psychiatric doctors who love having me in their offices to practice their English on which enables me to socialise, something that we take for granted in the outside world but something that is so precious and rare when you are locked behind four walls. 

I often feel lonely and isolated as the restrictive cell environment punishes you, but I am never truly alone; I am adaptable and make the best out of the privilege of having spare time.

Prisoners Abroad have been a great support to me throughout my sentence, but most notably in the dark isolated initial years before I was able to communicate with the outside world. They send me tabloids and magazines, along with cards which make me feel remembered. I also received language dictionaries and a phrase book which makes such a difference to my vulnerability. Prisoners Abroad keep in touch with me as friends, I wake up every day knowing that someone believes in me, and with this window to the world I am rarely ever alone now.

The terror of working hard your whole life and one day losing everything is daunting. No house, no car, savings and years of pensions gone, the blight of having been implicated and convicted makes any prospective employment a certain challenge. However, the reassurance of Prisoners Abroad’s catch net as I walk off the plan is an enormous relief.

They have reduced my isolation, and given me both hope and encouragement along the way.

The care and interest expressed by these kind strangers was a great relief and restored my resolve to persevere and make good of a hopeless situation. I hope my story speaks for many people who should not be here, and those thousands voiceless and abandoned.