Monday, 27 April 2009

GX Week 4

Monday 13th April

I got to lie in! Until 10am! In the afternoon we headed into Harlow town centre to weatherspoons where we celebrated Kate's 19th Birthday. The staff took the decoration of our little booth with ballons and banners in their stride but there were some rasied eyebrows when we got the party poppers out so I made sure that they were quickly cleaned up. After enjoying a few drinks and the various cakes and treats made by everyone (must get Rory's flapjack receipe) we walked to Harlow Town park to spend a surprisingly sunny afternoon in the park. We checked out the fair for an hour and then set off for our host homes on the last bank holiday bus at 8pm

Tuesday 14th April

I could like buses if bus stops were warm and the buses arrived on time but neither of these simple things are to be so I hate them. However in other news Olga and I sat in with Matts engage group today while they discussed STIs and Drugs. e2e is closed this week for easter and while we have been given the task of creating a number of worksheets and exercises I thought that that would get boring after a few days and so persuaded Olga to sit in on the lesson. I learnt a good new quote "cannabis makes you happy with being bored". It was interesting listening to the guys talk about HIV, as at out GCD someone said that with the amount of information available in this country there's no excuse for catching it through 'risky behaviour' yet to quote one of the guys "I've heard of it but I don't know what it is". It is very easy for people to miss information. Perhaps they don't go to school or the doctors. Perhaps they are discouraged from talking about the subject due to religious beliefs or culture. In the evening we had another MPR meeting. There is sooo much to organise on such a small budget. Some expectations had to be brought down to reality. I'm wondering why I volunteered for this committee!

Wednesday 15th April

Today Olga sat in with Matts engage group while I stayed in the office enjoying some paperwork, and thats not a joke. I am really sad and enjoy paperwork. I searched for jobs in the paper, updated the job folder, made a display of the newspaper articles made last week, completed new attendance sheets and phoned Game about thr possibility of getting some work experience for one of the learners to be told that they don't offer it due to age restrictions. After work I got the bus into town and bought myself some sneaky treats, crips, chocolate and doughnuts (which are all gone!). I made sausage and mash for dinner after which Gulnara and I did a pretty successful job of planning our GCD. We just need to clear up some facts we have on refugees which don't match up.

Thursday 16th April

I was naughty at my placement today. I made a data colection sheet and started a work sheet on journey planning but then spent the rest of the day updating this blog, checking facebook, researching refugees and printing maps of London as I am apparently leading a group around on Saturday under the impression that I 'know London well'. I can do a tour from the embankment taking in Westminister, Buckingham Palace, Leicester Squre and Trafalgar Square (thank you LSC) and thats about it. After dinner Gulnara and I whizzed through the final preperations for our GCD finishing at the very resonable time of 8pm.

Friday 17th April

Our GCD went pretty well. Here's a record of everything we discussed that I typed up to send to the rest of the group.

What is Immigration?
Moving permanent residence to another country - Personal choice - Green card - Long term - People

The act of coming into a country of which a person is not native for permanent residency.

What are Refugees?
Forced to move to get help/protection - War, politics, religion - Escape persecution (difference between persecution and discrimination, persecution means that a persons life is being threatened) - Unplanned - Continual movement - Can go back
(Internally displaced and environmental refugees – not included in the traditional definition of a refugee)

A refugee is a person who flees to a foreign country due to a well-founded fear of persecution for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group, or political opinion in their native country.

Asylum Seeker - Definition
A person who is seeking to be recognised as a refugee.
Asylum seekers are not allowed to work in the UK and must rely on a allowance set at 30% below normal income support.

Immigration Mapping: The group marked on a world map where people they knew living in their country had come from (UK - Black, KZ - Red). For example, our host mother is from the Dominican Republic.

Why do people emigrate?
PUSH factors:
Fear - War - Discrimination - Health - Natural disaster - Politics - Boredom - No jobs - Religious persecution - Conflict - Environmental - Running from the law

PULL factors:
Job- Education - Better life - Allegiance, religious, political - Like the country - Colonial links - Economics - Marriage - Lower taxes - Welfare - Relatives - Find work - Freedom - Weather - Leisure - Health/medical care - Retirement


Do the jobs we don’t want - New ideas/philosophies e.g. respect for the elderly - More workers -
Music - Cheap workforce - Skills - Positive stories - New languages - New cultures - New religions - Foods - Mixed race babies - More global awareness - Cross cultural working -Shared history - More opportunities - Festivals

Pressure on public services, housing, schools, health service - Home sickness -Identity fraud - Human trafficking - Crime - Cheap workforce = less jobs for natives - ‘British jobs for British workers’ Gordon Brown - Power imbalance (colonialism) - Overcrowding -
Non-integration (should immigrants have to integrate with the majority? Can it be done whilst retaining a distinct cultural identity?) - Language barrier - Shared history not taught - Exploitation - Religious conflict - Cultural misunderstandings - Racial discrimination - Terrorism

Q: Which of these famous people were refugees? Piet Mondrain (painter), Wyclef Jean (Musician), Bob Marley (Musician), Henry Kissinger (Former US Secretary of State), Karl Marx (Political Theorist), Dalai Lama (Religious Leader), Jackie Chan (Actor).
A: All of them

Q: What year was the United Nations Convention on Refugees on which most refugee law is based?
A: 1951

Q: How many refugees are there?
A: Very difficult to tell estimates range from 16 million to 62 million

Q: How many refugees are women and children?
A: 80%

Q: When is world refugee day?
A: June 20th

Q: What percentage of the worlds refugees are hosted by Africa and Asia?
A: 60% (Europe hosts 20%)

Q: What percentage of the worlds refugees are hosted by the UK?
A: 3%

Q: What percentage do the UK public think the UK hosts?
A: 23%

Q: How much money must asylum seekers live on each week?
A: £42.16

Q: There are more than 100 medically qualified refugees on the British medical Associations database. How many are employed in the health care service?
A: 69

Case Studies
Jennifer, Sudan
”I came to the UK after winning a scholarship to Leeds University. I’d left Sudan some years before as my father was an Anglican bishop and the Islamic government was prohibiting worship and burning churches. After finishing my Masters degree, I planned to resume my career in Kenya but the Kenyan authorities wouldn’t renew my visa. When the Home Office said they would deport me back to Sudan, I was terrified as I knew I would probably be killed. My only option was to apply for asylum. I then discovered I was pregnant. I was put into a hostel and was finally given leave to stay in the UK just before my baby was born. I am desperate to do proper paid work but childcare is a big problem.”

Aygun, Turkey
“My husband was wrongly suspected of being a Kurdish guerrilla in Turkey. He was beaten and tortured. The authorities drove us out of our village. They interrogated us, sometimes all through the night, called us ‘dirty Kurds’ and said, ‘We’ll burn you all’. One day when they beat me in front of my children, I knew I had to get out. When we made it to the UK, I was so happy because we were safe. But it has not been easy here. Children on the estate throw stones at us, smash our windows and call us names. I am afraid to go out and I keep my children inside the house.”

Christiane, Democratic Republic of Congo
“When I opened the letter telling me I had leave to remain I screamed and shouted and called my family - many of them have been forced to flee too and are in various countries. I’ve been apart from my husband for two years and want to be reunited so we can start a family. When I fled the Congo, I was a trainee solicitor but to become a solicitor here I need to study for a further two years. I may work in a shop to finance it. Making the transition to life as a refugee is difficult but I want to feel more a part of Britain and build a future.”

Challenges facing refugees/asylum seekers
Misunderstanding - Discrimination - Language - Fear - Stereotyping - Not fulfilling potential -
Not able to use skills - Changing plans - Dispersed family - Disappointment - Low incomes - Childcare

Benefits to refugees/asylum seekers
Escape - Protection - Safety - Human rights - Opportunity - Better job - Recognised status - Benefits - Healthcare - Education

We made the opposite mistake to Ben and Misha, running an hour ahead of schedule by 11am despit half the group missing the bus. Luckily I had quickly cobbled together the case studies on Thursday afternoon to use in that very situtation. We still finished at 3pm but I think everyone was greatful. The afternoon session is soo hard! It's like something sucks the energy out of the room, and everyone seems to get pretty irritable. We left the group discussions about London, Communications, leaflet delivery and Mid Phase Review until after we had finished the GCD which worked much better in terms of time and limiting discussion but perhaps distracts from the learning achieved and can end the day with conflict. Maybe we need some kind of group hug.

Saturday 18th April

We did the London trip. Walking from Liverpool Street Station to the Tower of London, over Tower Bridge to The Globe Theatre, then on to the Tate Modern, over the Millennium Bridge to St Pauls Cathedral. Tube to Green park. Lunch in Green Park. Walking to Buckingham Palace. Through St James Park to Westminster Abbey, on to Westminster Palace a.k.a Big Ben/the Houses of Parliament, on to Trafalgar Square and then shopping and watching street performers in Covent Garden. Back on the tube to Liverpool Street, then home. As you can see it was a busy day. A whistle stop tour of all the major London tourist attractions. There was lots of walking, photo taking, standing around, losing people and the odd bit of moaning. I did hurry people along but in my opinion the day was for the Kazakah volunteers to enjoy and do what they wanted to do rather than the UK volunteers, not that I didn't enjoy it! My feet and legs are killing me now, just like back in the day after my first Luciano's shift of the holiday.

Team 93 outside Westminster

Sunday 19th April

Today the whole team delievered flyers for the Bishops Stortford Music Festival around well Bishops Stortford. Maybe Ihave a negative view of human nature but I expected to get at least a little abuse or aggressive questioning about what I was doing but none was forthcoming. Of the people I spoke to outside their homes (and there were quite a few being a sunny Sunday afternoon) all were happy to receive a leaflet. I suppose all they have to do is look at it and/or throw it away. Gulnara and I ran out of leaflets and finished an hour early afterwhich we decided to go home to get some much needed rest rather than wait for the others.


Legendary Johnsin said...

Hi Catfish! I stumbled upon your blog from the So How Was Your Day blog. Love this post. When I was in college, I interned at a refugee resettlement agency in Washington D.C. The best days of my college career! Do you work for a non-profit?

CatFish said...

Thanks for your interest. I'm taking part in a voluntary programme called Global Xchange (explained the programme in detail here As part of the programme each week two of the volunteers teach the rest of the team about a specific global issue. Mine was immigration and refguees.