Usaama

British, 27 years old, British Red Cross.

Why are you here?

My biggest motivation for getting involved in this project has to do with my history as an immigrant. It’s because of this history I feel an affinity with those who have been forced to give up their homes to seek safety and a better life elsewhere in the world.
While I’ve never been a refugee myself, I was born in Uganda, one of the world’s poorest countries. I immigrated to the UK with my parents when I was just six years old. I’m not going to pretend my experience is the same as that of the vulnerable and disadvantaged children and young people fleeing war, persecution and humanitarian disasters. But as an immigrant myself, I have a huge amount of empathy for anyone who has to make the same journey. Naturally, I wanted to contribute towards a project that welcomes them in Europe.
I was lucky when I arrived in the UK to be welcomed with the chance at a full education as well as every opportunity to succeed and integrate into European society. However unfortunately this is not the case for many young refugees today who shamefully have to fight for these basic human rights every step of the way.
This is why I wanted to work on this project in Greece. To prepare the unaccompanied young refugees, who choose to settle here, for a smooth integration into our European society, as well as helping to prepare local communities to welcome those refugees and new migrants with positivity rather than xenophobia.
It’s not an easy task but that’s how you change hearts and minds over time.

Favourite moment on the project so far

My favourite moment volunteering so far has been without a doubt running a weekly interactive mobile school for children living or working on the streets. It’s been the highlight of my weeks providing those children with fun games and exciting English lessons in a public square. I’ve only delivered a few so far but already I can see how powerful it is in helping street children unlock their potential and just have to chance to be kids.

Your proudest moment?

My proudest achievement to date was when I spent almost 4 months volunteering as a Team Leader on the International Citizen Service programme in Uganda. The reason I’m most proud of this achievement is because despite all the challenges I was able to successfully work with my Ugandan counterpart to co-manage 3 diverse, cross-cultural teams of 18-25 year old volunteers, as they carried out activities to improve the lives of the local young people in the communities where we were based. Plus it was through this experience that I discovered talents I never knew I had, for example the ability to support my volunteers through very difficult personal challenges (mostly by just fine-tuning my listening skills).

Strengths and weakness

I am very enthusiastic and love making a positive difference in other people’s lives. I’m always striving to be a better version of myself and as a consequence I’ve developed a talent for helping others to do the same. I’m quite good at helping others reflect on their actions and behaviours, as well as exploring changes they might want to make if they’re willing to take that step. And my weakness…It’s possible that I’m a little too funny, so much so that no one else in the world gets me!

How do you relax?
I love watching films, especially ones with very compelling storylines that leave you feeling inspired. One of my favourites is Harry Potter, in fact, some people even call me Black Potter:

If you had a theme song, what would it be?
If I had a theme song it would be without a doubt ‘Man in the mirror’ by the great Michael Jackson


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This project has been funded with support from the European Commission. This website reflects the views only of the author, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.