Fleeing home in search of a better life – students share their stories

27th April 2022

For many UK refugees, the impact of being forced to flee their homeland has been extremely challenging. The experiences of some of our students, as outlined here, provide an opportunity to reflect on both the journey that forced them to leave, and their new lives in England.

Many of them were as young as seven when life as they knew it changed. Some have recently fled their homes, while others have been displaced for decades. Below are stories of courageous refugees and asylum seekers, who have overcome adversity and found hope.

Ali Saleh Sany
Ali Saleh Sany is currently studying English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL).

Ali left his country at a very young age because his father feared that they would be killed by armed gangs.

He said: “My mother died when I was four years old at the hands of gangs, so my father decided it was best to leave the country and move away from dangers and wars.

“We moved to Chad and lived there for a long time. However, my dad was still scared that we would be sent back to our country as Chad was closely affiliated to it.”

Ali’s father wanted them to move to Europe. However, they did not have enough money to travel together. As a result, Ali’s father sent him to France ahead of him while he raised more money, and within a few weeks joined him there.

He said: “France was not what we expected, and my father and I did not get any help or support from the French government. We then found our way to the UK and, since moving here, I have experienced equality. I feel safe and now live in peace. I also have rights as never before.”

Ali, who enjoys football and basketball, hopes to become an engineer one day.

Idris Jibril

ESOL student Idris was born in Nyala, South Darfur but had his life uprooted when war broke out.

Having to leave his family behind, he ended up in Libya but described the conditions there as ‘hard’.

Idris said: “Living in Libya was a challenge. I remember they put more than 200 people in a small warehouse. We didn’t have freedom to talk or even ask for anything.”

Idris then moved to Italy but described his journey by boat as ‘frightening’.

“We weren’t safe and I thought I would die en route. When I arrived in Italy it was the start of a new life but also having to learn and understand a new language. It was extremely difficult as I didn’t have money for food and had to sleep on the street.”

Before moving to the UK, Idris moved to France in search of a better life but was faced with similar challenges and conditions to those he had experienced in Italy.

“France was very difficult and I was on the streets again with no money and food. I entered the UK by lorry from Calais. I had been in Calais for about three months, on the street. As soon as I entered the UK, I received so much help and support. I received accommodation and I was able to seek asylum.”

Idris, who enjoys playing football, watching movies and reading, hopes to progress on to university to study electronic engineering

Naba Abdo
Naba Abdo left Sudan at a very young age due to the conflict in Sudan.

Naba, who is studying English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL), said that since moving to the UK he has felt safe and made good friends.

He said: “I was young. I don’t remember much. All I remember is that I had to leave my country for safety reasons.”

Naba, whose hobbies include drawing and writing short stories, hopes to become a
a psychiatrist one day.

The civil war was sparked in 1983 when the military regime tried to impose Sharia law as part of its overall policy to “Islamicise” all of Sudan. Since then, more than four million people have been displaced, and an estimated two million have died.

Ghazala Anwar
Student Ghazala Anwar moved to the UK 13 years ago from Pakistan, in search of a better life.

After moving to the UK, Ghazala, who is passionate about hair and beauty, enrolled on the Hair, Beauty and Media Makeup course in 2020.

She said: “I have always been interested in the hair, beauty and media make up industry and have always wanted to upskill.

“I was very apprehensive but have benefitted immensely from the work and individual support provided in college within the Hair, Beauty and Media Makeup department.

“It has been through this support that I have been able to do my assignments and keep up to date with my work.”

Ghazala hopes to progress onto a course in media make up in September, and in the future aims to become a hair and makeup artist.

For more information about the College of Sanctuary visit the website.

Do you have a story you’d like to share? Contact Tidi Kwidini, tidi.kwidini@luminate.ac.uk

Did You Know?
Did you know we have 541,720,573 resources at Leeds City College?

Did you know we have 541,720,573 resources at Leeds City College?

The resources include books, journals, e-books, videos, encyclopedias and more. These resources are the combined total number of resources at Joseph Priestley Centre, Beeston, Rothwell Centre, The Annexe, Printworks Campus and Park Lane Campus. We also have 12,277 e-books across Leeds City College libraries and more than 500,000 videos!

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