Visit to an English Class in late October 2017
I am visiting a large room filled with weak autumn sun in South London, from where a drop-in for refugee women is run twice a week. In the corner, a small child is contentedly playing with a train-set, while shrieks and happy chatter come from the nursery next-door. The theme of today’s English class is education, and on the whiteboard the group facilitator has written the simple question ‘How did you learn as a child?’ Today’s group of 10 women, some new to the group, others regulars, hesitantly start to consider how to answer this question about their lives in this mostly unfamiliar, but common language that they now share -English.
Continue reading “English Lessons – starting again in the UK”
Arabic language teacher Aziz* from Syria started a master’s degree in the UK in 2010 and had to apply for refugee status upon finishing his studies. He has not been back home ever since. In this second part of the interview, Aziz shares his recommendations on the asylum process in the UK, drawing from his personal experience and work with other refugees.
The importance of language
Aziz has been living in the UK since 2010 and has a love for languages. “During my studies, I was helping friends who were studying Arabic. They found it useful and I enjoyed it. After I was granted refugee status, I decided to pursue a career in teaching – first freelance and now full time.”
Continue reading “When a refugee becomes a teacher”
Arabic language teacher Aziz* from Syria first arrived in London in 2010 to pursue his master’s degree in the UK. In March 2011, while he lived in London, protests started in his home country. ‘It took me a while before I realised I couldn’t go back home anymore – probably some 6 months into the revolution.’ So he filed for asylum upon finishing his studies. This is his story.
A war back home
Aziz remembers the start of the Syrian war very clearly. “A friend of mine said that there were protests going on in Damascus. We couldn’t really believe at first that such a thing was possible. I followed the news daily, read reports and kept in touch with people in different parts of the country.”
Continue reading “When a student at a UK university becomes a refugee”
A.*, an independent woman from Syria, had established a life for herself in Greece, working for an international company. While helping other refugees, she had to apply for refugee status herself. She did so in the UK and was granted refugee status recently. A. talks about her current life, as she is applying for jobs. She’s no stranger to the cycle of poverty.
Where to live as a refugee
Since May 2017, A. lives in an apartment in one of the suburbs of London. “Finding a place on your own is difficult, as most private parties require either an advanced payment or a job contract. Luckily, I got my current house with help of my religious community.” Considering where to live after one is granted refugee status is tricky. “You get priority if you apply for housing in the place where you are staying at that moment. But that might not be where the jobs are or where you can easily find a strong social network.”
Continue reading “Refugees Lack the Money to Find a Job”
A.* is an independent woman. First, she worked in the family business in Syria. After that, she went to Greece and established a life for herself there. But with a change of rules came a change of place. A. now lives in London, has recently received her refugee status and is eagerly looking for a job.
Successful in Greece
According to A., people from Syria didn’t use to travel much abroad before the war. “In Syria, we have everything – mountains, deserts, rivers, sea, history. When I was younger, I visited all cities in Syria. They each have their own beauty, even though many of them are destroyed now.” Having great beauty at home didn’t prevent A. from moving abroad, though. “I wanted to experience the Western way of life. I was really keen on doing so and applied for a visa ten years in a row.”
Continue reading “After Decade in Greece Not Welcome Anymore”
Gulwali Passarlay is an author, TEDx speaker, activist and politics major. He is a commissioner for Children’s Commision on Child Poverty, and has been a representative of the National Scrutiny Group. He is also a refugee. At the age of 12, Gulwali’s mother paid smugglers to take him and his brother from Afghanistan to Europe, in a twelve-month odyssey through which he endured time in prisons, starvation, cruelty, and violence. Whilst Gulwali has achieved many extraordinary things since then, it is these experiences of migration that have made him into the man he is today.
While the media have written extensively about these experiences, his opinion on migration and refugee inclusion have hitherto largely remained uncovered. To TERN and RefuTales, Gulwali talked in-depth about opportunities and barriers towards global citizenship.
Continue reading “If we Direct them to the Right Source, Refugees have Brilliant Ideas”