Spotlight On: Refugee Education UK
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Refugee Education UK (REUK) is a charity whose mission is to equip young refugees to build positive futures through education. In this edition of Spotlight On, we’re shining a light on Angel, a young refugee from Lebanon, who has been helped by REUK. Here’s what she has to say…
Could you tell us a little about yourself?
Hello! My name is Angel. I was born in Lebanon and now I live in Dudley.
What were your reasons for leaving Lebanon?
I was 12 years old when my family and I left my country. At the time, I had no idea why we left. It was my first time ever taking a flight in an aeroplane. It was very exciting and fun at that time. However, when I got to the airport, I realised the reality of the situation and that I will never return to my home country.
How do you define what a refugee is?
A refugee is a person who has been forced to leave their country because of persecution and war. Sometimes people find it hard to understand the difference between a refugee and an asylum seeker. As an asylum seeker, me and my family are still waiting for the Home Office decision. We are waiting for them to accept that we have been persecuted and give us the right to stay in this country. However, as a refugee the claim made has been accepted. Soon I hope the government will accept that we are refugees.
Do you think the world understands what it really means to be a refugee?
It’s surprising sometimes to find out how little people understand about refugees. I think behind the label you often see in the news, there is a person who has been through traumatic experiences. There is a person who is strong and willing to fight for their survival. And I hope that one day, we all come to understand the person before we understand the label.
What has been most challenging for you?
For the past seven years, it was very easy for me to adapt to England’s culture. But it was more challenging to watch my parents not being able to work and finding it hard to communicate with others.
What are your hopes for the future?
To be completely honest, education is my life. It’s all I’ve known. I love learning more about the world and how it works. Maths and science are not my strong points, but I am better when it comes to essay subjects like law or geography. In the future, I hope I can go to university and study law with French law. I really do believe that the law is the key component to fight climate change! I also do hope that people come to know more about refugees and their stories. Through their stories, I hope you also fight for your own dreams and future.
How did you get involved with Refugee Education UK and what do they do for/with you?
I got involved with Refugee Education UK thanks to another charity called Stories of Hope and Home. They help educate students about refugees and asylum seekers by telling refugee’s stories.
I wanted to go to university. But, as an asylum seeker, to be able to access higher education I had to apply for scholarships because I don't qualify for Student Finances. One of my friends in Stories of Hope and Home advised me to contact REUK, because they help with multiple things like scholarship applications, mentoring and advice. To this day, I am very grateful to all the people in REUK who have helped me and are as enthusiastic about my future as I am. I have enjoyed being a part of their work outside of my journey to university, like being involved in their anti-racism group and creating something for International Women’s Day, which you can see here!
Refugee Education UK is a charity whose mission is to equip young refugees to build positive futures through education. They work in London, Birmingham, Oxford, Cambridge and Peterborough. You can get involved by visiting their website at www.reuk.org/getinvolved