Client Story: After Years of Persecution, Raoul’s Asylum is Granted!

Raoul* is a citizen of an African country who was kidnapped by a rebel group when he was 11 years old. He was recently granted asylum through Casa Cornelia’s Pro Bono program.


"Refugees in the camp disapproved of Raoul’s relationship and threatened to kill them both. Fearful for his life, Raoul walked out of the camp and paid a truck driver to take him away. He traveled through multiple African countries by hitching rides with different truck drivers." 

Refugees in the camp disapproved of Raoul’s relationship and threatened to kill them both. Fearful for his life, Raoul walked out of the camp and paid a truck driver to take him away. He traveled through multiple African countries by hitching rides with different truck drivers. Eventually he ended up in another African nation, where he registered as a refugee and received temporary asylum.


In 2015, local attitudes towards immigrants changed. People became very hostile towards immigrants, and some were beaten or killed. The violence continued, and in 2018, Raoul was beaten again—he was cut with a knife, hit on the head and knocked unconscious. Fearful for his life once again, Raoul decided to flee and go to the United States to find safety. He traveled by ship to South America, and then by land to the U.S. border – where he requested asylum.

With the support of volunteer Jafferi Kyanza, who interpreted Raoul’s statements from Swahili to English, and the mentorship of Senior Attorney Arwa Zakir Kakavand, Volunteer Attorney Richard Bainter requested asylum for Raoul based on  imputed political opinion and sexual orientation. The case was successful. Raoul was granted asylum in the U.S. and can finally live a life free from persecution.

Casa Cornelia is grateful to everyone who participated in this successful case. Your dedication and commitment to this client’s case was outstanding. Thank you so much!




 *Names have been changed to protect client confidentiality. 

Raoul was just 11 years old when a group of rebels came to his village in Africa to forcibly recruit boys and young men to fight against the government. His parents resisted the rebels, and they were killed while trying to protect their boys. Orphaned, Raoul was taken to a rebel camp where he was repeatedly raped, stabbed, and beaten.

One day, when told to fetch water, Raoul managed to escape. Once he reached a camp of government soldiers, he asked for help, but instead was accused of being part of the rebel group. He was handcuffed, beaten, and locked up for days. When the soldiers allowed him to step out of the room to relieve himself, Raoul escaped again.

He then met a large group of people who were also running from violence, and crossed to another country that had a UN refugee camp. UNHCR officers registered the group, including Raoul, as refugees and took them to a camp. They all received ration cards for food, which was Raoul’s only identity document at the time. Raoul lived in this camp for 13 years and was not allowed to leave. He went to school at the camp and worked at a trade. Eventually, he developed feelings and started a relationship with another man.