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SISTERS NOT STRANGERS NETWORK REFLECTIONS ON INTERNATIONAL LABOUR DAY 2024

Updated: May 6

These are reflections from women in our network on this year's International Labour Day. Some names have been altered to protect our identities.





“I am Sweeta, a life saver who has spent 5 years bringing her family to the UK, besides this study English, business, advocacy and Sanctuary in politics plus numbers of small courses and awards. I have spent all these years here to achieve all of this and will focus more on education and university in my near future. I am from Iraq. I am currently a housewife who takes care of my children. I also participate in English language groups and food courses. In the future I want to have my own job as a childcare worker” ~ Sweeta


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“I am Agnes, a mother, grandmother and wife. In my country, I was a high ranking member of a political party (FPI) and personal assistant, in charge of the Administration and financial department of the first Lady. I had to flee because of political persecution after the civil war in 2010. I waited for nearly 8 years to be granted refugee status. While I was waiting, I studied English,  travel and tourism, I studied English to campaign against detention I went to and Travel and Tourism to open my own travel agency. For now I am a spokesperson facilitator for Women for Refugee Women. I'm also a housing worker for Baobab Women Project. I am skilled for such a job because I have volunteered for 6 years with Hope Projects Birmingham while I was waiting for my final decision from the Home Office.” ~ Agnes Ekrah Tanoh


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“When I came here with my family I didn’t know English., I I learnt English and now have five A-levels all grade A. I volunteered for many organisations in Swansea and I was elected as member of the first Youth Parliament of Wales when I was 14. My committee worked on youth mental health. Because of this I contributed to an international UNICEF report on youth mental health. I represented the Youth Parliament to meet the queen. After I got asylum. I have been to a peace camp in Germany and this year I’m going to Geneva for a UN Quaker camp about peace.. Now I’m at university in London studying nutrition and diet.” ~ Fata


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“I am a woman seeking safety in the UK, a mother to two adult children whom I have not seen for the last 15 years, which means I have been absent  in their growing up as teenagers, this has impacted me emotionally when I can only speak to them by phone and facetime.

My nature as a person is, I am calm and peaceful and a good listener, I studied Counselling and Psychotherapy Levels 2 and 3.  I wasn't able to proceed to Level 4, because I do not have LTR so I cannot go for placements.  This made me sad and angry,  I channeled my anger into activism and advocacy for the right to higher education and the right to work. 

I volunteer  by dividing my time doing advocacy and activism work with different organizations. I use my counselling skills to support women in my network. In my free time I listen to audiobooks that uplift my spirit, and do crocheting as a therapy for myself. When I get my status, I would like to finish my counselling course and be able to practice as a Counsellor, as I enjoy working with women, listening and sharing their good and bad moments, I always want to bring the good from people and make them feel worthwhile during the challenging times.  I am not growing any younger, I would love to travel and see my babies as I still call them and travel and enjoy the world that humans are destroying.” ~ Mariam Yusuf


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“Hello, my name is Tugba and I’m Turkish, but I lived in China for 12 years. I went to China to study at the age of 18, and while pursuing my master’s degree there, I tried to help many Chinese people and Turks of different ages by teaching them Chinese to facilitate their jobs and education. After graduating from my master’s program, I worked as a Chinese teacher for foreign children at a private Chinese kindergarten for about 3 years, and shortly after, I started working as an assistant manager and continued teaching. Currently, I work full-time as an assistant teacher in various schools in Swansea city. Sometimes I work in ASD classes, sometimes in primary schools, and sometimes in secondary schools, and I am very happy because of that. I believe improving my English is a great opportunity for self-development, although sometimes I find it difficult to express myself as the work environment can be different, and while some teachers are very polite and understanding, others have higher expectations and may behave in a way that indicates their displeasure with me being a foreigner. Working life is difficult everywhere, it requires patience, effort, and struggle. I am aware of these and I try my best to do my best in the tasks given to me by working harder and putting in more effort, even if I cannot fill my language shortcomings at that moment. My current goal is to work full-time at a stable school, to build good relationships with everyone, and to become an assistant teacher who is loved by both teachers and students, and perhaps even to become a teacher in the future, living by doing the job of my dreams” ~ Tugba


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“I am a mother of four adult children and five grandchildren and a widow. I am now volunteering because I am not allowed to work and support my children. I would like to work at the Care and support service when I am allowed to stay” ~ Mama Rosemary


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“Being dreamy about the future as an asylum seeking mother is great. It actually helps you to escape from the brutal reality you had then and now at present but actually you should also be practical, tactful and hopeful. If not for you, sake of your children 

I was a teacher for eight years back in my country  -  I taught many levels. My students are still contacting me for advice. I had to stay strong, keep smiling and keep my head straight for my students as for my two daughters because despite my living conditions I am sort of a role model to them. Through this rough phase of my life as an asylum seeker volunteering helped me to rediscover myself and keep my mind occupied.   Eventually I received Swansea University's  only postgraduate bursary for asylum seekers to do my MA in Writing and received a distinction. I have two books published. I am a trustee on a local asylum and refugee support charity. Share my story and many women asylum seekers' stories in school assemblies whenever I receive an invitation. I am running a creative writing circle in the community. Helps with administration of a small catering business started by a group of immigrant women.

I continue to volunteer and take courses, to improve myself every day. I am trying to find a way into the future but I am stuck as after 2 and half years I still haven't had an initial decision from  the home office. I consider myself as a self starter. Even though the home office take it's time to come to a decision about my decision. I have claimed my rightful status in my local community. So as my two daughters as well as my husband who also received a scholarship to complete his Bachelor's degree in Health and social care.” ~ Maringa


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“My Name Is Bosede Adufe Oluwole (BEA). I am a Mother And A Grandmother. I Am Retired. I Do Help My Children To Look After My  Grandchildren If They Are Busy. I Could Have Gone To Study More In School If My Status Has Been Given To Me Before My Retirement Age.” ~ Bosede


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“I'm a mother, a student, an activist, earlier in my country I was a financial advisor and accountant. I am now going to University, training to be a psychotherapist. I am also supporting my daughters through their mental health challenges caused by this hostile asylum process. I have also been involved in volunteering at women's support groups for survivors of Domestic abuse and gender based violence. I am a life long campaigner for women's rights and issues. 

I would like to meet my mother who is old and ill. I want to be a family therapist and specialize in EMDR to support people through trauma. I would like to start a therapy retreat where women get holistic support towards recovery and empowerment from their abuse. I want to campaign to stop cultural terrorism that aid in traumatising south Asian women.” ~ Tandrima Mazundar

     

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I am a daughter, mother, student and a woman seeking asylum in the UK. I left my aged mother just to be safe as I am the only surviving child at the moment. I am presently attending college to acquire more knowledge and to understand the educational system in the UK while using that as pathways to get admission into University along side with volunteering with charity organisations. All these are in preparation to work as a researcher in the NHS in the future as soon as my asylum claim is approved.~ Afrin


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“I was a child, daughter, niece, aunt and mother. Then a sojourner, an asylum seeker and now a migrant. I was in the media industry in my country back home, found myself in the care industry, and then found the asylum process staring me in the face. I decided to volunteer with Baobab and Women with Hope to help women like myself. I had the opportunity to go back to school and officially, I now work with Baobab. Although I now work, the years lost while waiting in limbo still affect me. I am here, still standing so our children gain from our pains.

NB: The government should make it mandatory to work while waiting for a decision from the Home Office. RIGHT TO WORK!” ~ Bridget Obi


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“I am a mother who is seeking asylum in the UK. I have been waiting for ten months for a decision on my claim. I am banned from working and denied financial support. I hope in the near future I will be allowed to work to support myself and my family back home. I am also looking forward to pursuing my studies.” ~ Onia


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“A self-made woman and an activist. I am working in multiple roles, but I am still unsure if this is what I want to do or good at.” ~ Dr Ibtisam Farah


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“I worked as a Participatory Researcher and a Lecturer in Malawi. I worked in palliative care for my first 7 years here in the UK. I was stopped from working when I claimed asylum. My asylum case took 7 years to settle. I lost the skills I had but found a different passion- a community organiser. Thanks to the experiences gained from my voluntary community work, I now got a job as a community worker. I will not get back what I lost but I have something to hold on to now. I am looking forward to holding my granddaughter's hand for the first time ” ~ Loraine Masiya Mponela

 

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