Hi, I am Usman which is my name, I am a Human Being which is my species, A Marketing personnel at Music Action International which is my job title and A Refugee which is my visa status in this country. For me and many like me, it’s a status which in modern democratic societies is worth more than anything. It’s a permit of freedom, a permit of living normally like everyone else since October 2015 when I was granted this freedom.
Shortly after getting my Refugee status sorted, I started looking to get back into normal life with the objective of settling myself down in this society. One of my main targets was to get a job and start earning my bread and butter. I registered with a handful of charities working towards finding work for refugees, both odd jobs and slightly more professional jobs. It was then when I had a chance to meet a small but wonderful organisation called Transition London and through that had a chance to get my first internship in Marketing with Counterpoints Arts, the charitable organisation behind running and managing Refugee Week.
It was January 2018 when I started working with Counterpoints Arts, I knew very little about Refugee Week at that time. But the next few months changed my life forever. Not only did I make so many good friends at Counterpoints Arts, but I got an inside understanding of real issues refugees are facing and how some of these wonderful organisations working day and night to help refugees integrate into UK society. This was the first Refugee Week I participated in as a refugee and as an intern of Counterpoints Arts. I had a first-hand experience of seeing some wonderful people who fled from so many places, building their lives here and contributing towards UK society. So many talented writers, poets, musicians, comedians and painters I witnessed, all working towards spreading the word of peace and harmony and adding value to their lives and lives of so many others. All of it was so overwhelming and exciting that I decided not to leave this sector and even after my internship was over, I stayed in touch with Counterpoints Arts and started looking for a Marketing job in the same sector.
Not long after Refugee Week 2018, I landed a job with Music Action International. An amazing organisation working with some very talented and amazing human beings who happen to be refugees as well and supporting them through music. I really loved the thought behind what Music Action International is doing by working together with those affected by war and trauma. Refugees and torture survivors write their own lyrics, create their own music and with the help of the facilitators perform at amazing events.
In addition to working in this sector, I also started my own social enterprise called HAVEN Coffee with the aim of serving ethically sourced fair trade quality coffee to the local communities with a social mission of empowering refugees. For me Refugee Week is more than just 7 days, it’s more than just a celebration, it’s more than just an effort to integrate refugees into society. It’s an ideology, a concept where no one should be deprived, judged, stopped, discriminated or singled out because of the skin colour, race, gender, sexuality and Immigration Status. For me, Refugee Week is freedom, real freedom which refugees and non-refugees deserve alike. In the future not far from now, I could see a place like that. Happy Refugee Week to everyone.
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