Asylum seekers who lost fingers to frostbite share struggles of recovery
Published Wednesday, May 17, 2017 5:57PM CST
Last Updated Thursday, May 18, 2017 10:41AM CST
Two men who trekked through snow and frigid temperatures to seek asylum in Canada are trying to make a new life in Winnipeg.
Razak Iyal, 34, and Seidu Mohammed, 24, crossed the U.S.-Canada border near Emerson on Christmas Eve in fear of being returned to their home country of Ghana.
It was a dangerous trip that left them in horrific pain and with life changing injuries. After trekking 10 hours on foot across the frozen prairie, extreme frostbite took their fingers.
"Oh my God. That is very very difficult to describe,” said Iyal on the pain of the frostbite. “Because sometimes in the middle in the night you're feeling like it's there … but it's not there," he added.
“It’s difficult because I don't have thumbs,” said Mohammed.
After a number of surgeries, both men are recovering, learning how to write again, communicate on their phones, and get dressed.
“I don't regret anything,” said Mohammed. “It's just difficult for me to wear something for my socks. Because I am using my teeth a lot."
Many simple, everyday tasks remain a struggle for both men, and a source of unbearable frustration.
Iyal and Mohammed rely on a lot of help from other people, and the house they're in has been adapted to meet their needs.
The men are thankful for their lives, and everyone who has supported them.
Razak spends time volunteering to help other newcomers at the Canadian Muslim Women's Institute.
Seidu is still recovering from his surgeries which impacted his leg. He is looking forward to playing and coaching soccer.
"I can tell you, Manitoba is our home now. Winnipeg is like a house to us because we met a lot of good people,” said Iyal.
“Winnipeg is the place we want to stay for the rest of our life,” said Mohammed.
Mohammed told CTV News late Wednesday he can stay in Canada.
"I was so happy and emotional," he said after learning the news.
Mohammed said earlier Wednesday he was waiting for a letter with a decision from Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, but thought it would not show up in the mail until June.