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The Corporation

Posted: 24/11/15

Refugee shares story of sanctuary with students

West Nottinghamshire College students have heard the story of a refugeeā€™s plight to flee his war-torn home in Syria and how he reached Europe via a life-threatening journey overseas.

Pictured (from left) are learner coach Jess Bagshaw, Adil Ahmed, learner coach Lee Bunting, student Seif Waru with Rebecca Wilson and Leo Keely from NNRF.

Speaking at the college’s Create Theatre on Friday (20 November), Syrian refugee Adil Ahmed joined Leo Keely and Rebecca Wilson from the Nottingham and Nottinghamshire Refugee Forum (NNRF) to inform students of the harsh realities facing refugees escaping war and brutality.

The NNRF is an independent voluntary organisation which was set up in 2000 to work with refugees and asylum seekers. They offer advice, assistance and friendship to refugees and asylum seekers regardless of race, religion or political opinion.

Adil spoke to students about his previous peaceful life in Syria where he was living and studying English literature. In 2011, when the uprising started, life became dangerous and hostile. This is when he fled, crossing the border of Syria into Lebanon, then to Turkey.

After staying in Turkey a while and meeting new friends, he made the journey to Europe, moving from Istanbul to Nigeria, and from Nigeria to Libya. He then took a cramped journey across the Mediterranean with 265 other passengers – lasting 22 hours in a boat with no food or water.

BTEC Level 3 music student Seif Weru heard Adil’s story. He said: “Adil’s story was so informative. I’ve heard many views on refugees and we tend to only get one side from the media so I feel it’s important for students to get a real person’s point of view. His visit really touched us all as students and gave us a much better understanding of this topical subject.

“I grew up in Germany and one of my friends was an asylum seeker who was sent back to their home country, so I saw first-hand how difficult it was for them. I was born in Kenya then moved to Germany and then finally to the UK and I’ve been lucky to be accepted. Wherever you go, if you’re different, there’s sometimes people who question you being there.”

Adil, who has told his story recently at the University of Nottingham and on BBC Radio Nottingham and Notts TV, said: “I’m keen to clarify the idea of what an asylum seeker and what a refugee is as there’s still lots of misunderstanding.

“Lots of people have different reasons for becoming a refugee. For me it was due to war in my country and I wanted a peaceful place to live. I am very grateful to this country and to the government and everyone who offered me help.”

The visit was organised by learner coaches in the creative arts and digital technologies school of learning as part of ‘review week’, which takes place three times each academic year and gives students the chance to participate in a range of activities such as informative talks from external agencies to taking a basic first aid course.

It is hoped that college links with NNRF will continue and may include fundraising initiatives for the charity-run body.