A REFUGEE who has made a new life in Bolton is determined to give hope to others who are fleeing for their lives.

Abdi Khalif who grew up in the world’s largest refugee camp in Kenya was able to further his education thanks to a kind benefactor who was working for a non-governmental organisation helping the refugees.

He paid for Mr Khalif to obtain a diploma in logistics, something he would never have been able to obtain as a refugee

Now the married father-of-four children has set up Help Dadaab to help people receive an education, against all the odds.

Mr Khalif, aged 31, was just five when his family made the seven day journey by foot from his homeland Somalia to Kenya to escape the civil war.

The Dadaab Camp, home to more half-a-million refugees is all he remembers, living in a wooden hut with plastic sheeting which had to be rebuilt every six months or so, relying on rations distributed by the UNCHR, The United Nations Refugee Agency, and not always knowing when the next ration, made up of dried food, would be distributed.

His schooling was done outside under a tree with 70 other children. His education stopped at secondary school and he became an "incentive" worker, a voluntary post paying just £40 as month as refugees were forbidden from working.

Mr Khalif said: "I was 'working' with a man who worked with a non-governmental organisation who sponsored me to do my diploma. I did it over one year, I had to sit my exams in Nairobi, but I was not allowed to leave the camp without getting a travel document, and sometimes you didn’t know if the travel papers would come in time. It was a risk. But by hook or crook I had to get there. The camp is an open prison where people are restricted."

But he added: "I am very thankful to the Kenya Government for giving me an education. It was very nice to get my diploma. I was married when I studied for the diploma, and still doing incentive work. I always said I was a refugee in name but not in brain”

Mr Khalif said that education gives refugees hope and a future. One woman he knew was able to get a job in her homeland with a NGO because she was continuing her studies at a higher level.

Mr Khalif was able to come to England in 2011 thanks to the resettlement programme.

He said: "At the time refugees were being resettled in Canada and America, but I wanted to come to England. I was very lucky. Having the education has helped me to integrate quickly and get a job. I am now self-employed, worked as a translator and help in research at the University of Sussex.

"Education is so important for refugees because it gives them something to focus on and stop them from becoming idle and doing something wrong after they finish their 12 years of education."

Help Dadaab also aims to support disabled children into education and provide shelters and support for the most vulnerable in the camp.

Mr Khalif is being supported by Bolton-firm Serious Law — which has also made donations — with Ben Priestley a partner in the firm, and Martin Gill, a volunteer for Refugee Action, and lives in Bolton, and met Mr Khalif when he arrived in the UK.

Both are now trustees of the charity after being inspired by Mr Khalif’s story.

The charity has educated more than 40 young people starting from just three in 2014.

Mr Khalif has been back to the camp, using his own money.

He said: "I was helped and now want to help others, give back to the community — I have three homelands, Kenya, Somalia and the UK.

The charity now has a website, but is appealing for help from a website expert to help develop it further.

So far, the trustees have been able to cover all expenses and overheads of the charity meaning all donations have been used to directly help individuals in Dadaab.

Mr Priestley said: "Abid is an inspiration and he is living proof that education makes a difference and gives refugees a chance to stand on their own two feet."

People can find out how to sponsor a refugee by visiting https://helpdadaab.org/help-dadaab/health/ and can contact the charity on helpdadaab@mail.com