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The lockdown diaries

On Monday 23rd of March 2020 at 8pm our Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, came on live National TV to inform us that the situation with COVID-19 had escalated. As a result, the UK would be put on lockdown in order to control the spread of the virus. By this point the world was, and still is, in what I call global chaos. A third of the world is on coronavirus lockdown, that’s 2.7 billion people. 

Here are some of my documented thoughts throughout the first week.

24th March: Day 1 in lockdown 

Imagine walking down one of the busiest high streets in East London and seeing ‘closed’ on every single shop window, yes even the dodgy ones that sell stolen phones one end and kids toys on the other. At first, a sense of panic rushed through my blood as a I selfishly thought ‘what am I going to do if I need to buy something?’ Once I got over myself, I felt extremely sad. What was not long ago a community full of life, colour and culture was now just an empty road embodied with fear. Then I thought, is this what Armageddon feels like? Distressed people queuing 2 meters apart outside supermarkets, with masks covering majority of their faces, with only their eyes to show their anxiety. The desperate and vulnerable elderly locked in their houses for the foreseeable future. But I quickly came to the conclusion that it was not because I went home and felt safe again with my cup of tea. 

25th March: Day 2 in lockdown 

Aside from the infections and deaths, which the media has kept us all very well informed on, the attack on peoples’ livelihoods has been devastating to watch. Many people do not have the luxury of being able to work from home, the luxury I possess yet perhaps take for granted. People are being forced to go to work, putting themselves in high risk of being infected in order to feed their kids. Businesses are not surviving this economic climate and are forced to make people redundant and not pay their wages. Business owners who have worked terribly hard to make their dreams a reality watch this unforeseen virus destroy everything they’ve worked for. For this reason, remarks like ‘We are all in the same boat’ are very ignorant. We are all in the same ocean. But some of us have very grand boats, with beautiful interiors, while others are struggling to keep afloat. 

26th March: Day 3 in lockdown 

There is something so poetic about the current state of our world. For the first time, we are all fighting one common enemy. Suddenly topics like Brexit, that divided the country like nothing ever before, don’t matter. Ironically it has taken a devastating virus to make us realise we need to lean on each other from time to time. It reminds us that life’s beauty is inseparable from its fragility. Tonight at 8pm the country took part in a 2minute appreciation clap for our NHS workers. The virus has sucked away the magic from everything these past few weeks, but those two minutes of pure union and community across the UK brought that back. We are finally learning just how important social systems like the NHS are and how lucky we are to have them when we are most vulnerable. Big up the NHS. 

27th March: Day 4 in lockdown 

I have a confession to make. At first I thought, this lockdown thing would be quite nice. Working from home in my pyjamas with an unlimited amount of coffee breaks, endless movie nights with my favourite snacks and spending extra time with my family. What’s not to love? Kinda like a little holiday. But just a few days later and I am starting to really feel the cracks. There is nothing liberal nor democratic about a whole nation in lockdown and I just really miss coughing without feeling like a fucking jihadist. I miss the small things that I took for granted. I miss walking into a coffee shop and ordering myself a coffee, chatting about the most crap with my friends over a cheap pizza, waking up and not feeling the weight of global economic collapse before I’ve had my breakfast. I even miss London’s rush hour.

My love goes out to everybody suffering in these uncertain times. I hope we can soon hold hands and watch lilies grow, while the sun is reflected through our eyes, on a hot summers day. May we all see better times.

Why getting to know yourself is the most important job you can do in your life

Many of us go through life achieving various goals, experiencing fulfilment at many points and partaking in various relationships. But, with a small, yet constantly present, wound which prevents us from living ‘true happiness’. We don’t quite know who we are. I’m not referring to the trivial banalities of knowing one’s name, or date of birth. We’re unsure of what we are worth or we don’t have a secure sense of our morals.

Whenever I try to talk to people about self-reflection, I lose them before the conversation has even began. I’m met with barriers such as: ‘I’m not hipster enough for this sort of activity’ or ‘I don’t have the time or privilege to look inwards’. But, understanding a partner or a friend is an ideology that is fed to us from a young age. Our insecurity of not developing meaningful relationships means that we invest all of our time into the people around us. The fear of not finding ‘the one’ or not being popular or liked has been magnified, now more than ever, with social medias such as Instagram. Lacking an independent verdict means we are unnaturally hungry for external praise, which is why we seek affirmation from external sources. Why have we normalised knowing everything about everyone else, but to know yourself to be a ‘privilege’, only something that we do for leisure? The ironic truth is; good relationships begin with yourself. 

“The better you know yourself, the better your relationship with the rest of the world.” (Toni Collette)

We all seek satisfying relationships and this is no surprise as these are the foundations for success in all areas of our lives. But, learning to love and care for your needs first is imperative if there is to be any success in those relationships. How you treat yourself is how you will treat others.  It’s a good idea to start adopting a method of checking in with yourself and developing a relationship whereby you constantly are examining that what you are doing in life is still fulfilling and meeting the requirements as you intended. Constantly question yourself and find out why you like the things you do. In my opinion, a thought is never isolated from its environment, hence it could be your surroundings pushing what they deem as ‘right’ onto you. Analysing and questioning will teach you how to be your authentic self and potentially help to relieve yourself of the pressures of society. 

Knowing you and what works for you is a form of self-care.  You are the one person in your life who is your partner in everything that you do, you have to remember to constantly nurture that relationship with yourself, as you would do with your best friend. Do not subject yourself to environments, perspectives, relationships and other commitments that disempower you and do not fit with your moral stance. Doing so would be disrespectful to your best friend, you. It would relay the message that you do not care about your inner-self, causing internal conflict. If certain relationships in your life are severed as a result, then it’s your job to create connections that you find mutually fulfilling. This doesn’t mean just be friends with people who have the same opinions as you, this could get quite boring. It just means find people who respect you just as much as you respect yourself. 

Unfortunately, fulfilling relationships will have to be put on hold since lockdown 2.0 has hit us. We are approaching the cold winter months, people are losing their jobs left right and centre, businesses are barely surviving and our favourite restaurants are closing on us when we need them the most. Its grim out here right now and it’s enough to make the happiest person alive lose their shit. It’s in these dark times, quite literally, that we can learn most about ourselves and it’s a time where knowing yourself is most helpful. 

It’s in times of crisis where you can use knowing yourself to your advantage. Knowing what puts you in a good mood, what your hobbies are and how you best relax can help you get through this period. I like to ‘diagnose’ my feelings, what I mean by this is to understand why I’m feeling the way I am. The more in tune you are with yourself the more likely you are to point towards what is making you feel sad or happy. This can lead you to a solution when facing a problem or at least help you process how you are feeling without relying on someone else to bring your spirits up. Especially because lockdown means we won’t be interacting with friends and loved ones as usual. We can all use these weeks of lockdown as a training period to delve in deeper and really observe ourselves. A period of meditation and self-care. 

Below is a list of questions you can ask yourself to get to know you a bit better. The beautiful thing about self-reflection is you will realise that your answers to these questions will change throughout time as you evolve as a person and grow. 

  • Is it more important to be loved or to love?
  • Which is worse; failing or never trying? How does the answer to this relate to you specifically?
  • To what degree have I actually controlled the course of my life?
  • What am I doing about the things that matter most in my life? 
  • What worries me most about the future? Why?
  • What’s one thing I’d like others to remember about me at the end of my life?
  • What have I given up on?
  • Am I holding onto something that I need to let go of?

Without the power of knowing who you are, anyone can decide that you are worthless or bad and there will be nothing inside of us to threaten this judgement. This can be dangerous and toxic, it will lead to us just accepting what people say and think of us which can lead to harmful relationships. We will constantly be asking others what we are worthy of before looking inside for an answer as we lack an identity. 

The good news is; you can start the process of self-reflection at any point. It will bring about inner peace, better decision making skills that help you align your choices with what you feel inside, will stop the hunger for audience approval and help you have better relationships overall. 

Take care and be safe x

Female rage

Gathering examples on how the patriarchy is ruining our society is one of my favourite ways to relax on a rainy Sunday afternoon. There is something almost orgasmic about reading a statement that is in complete alignment with your own ideology, reinforcing your ideas even further, making your anger run even deeper. So why do I do this to myself?

But I love my anger, its rage stemming from passion. It lights me up in a debate while I hold it in between my palms like a lantern. 

Growing up around a little feisty old lady, whom I call ‘grandma’, introduced me to the concept of an independent woman. She was forced to be both mother and father to her children, while running the business that her husband had left her after his passing in the 80s. Contrary to my grandmother, in novels and poems women and anger are associated with losing control, an act of embarrassment for a ‘lady’. In many cultures anger belongs to the domain of masculinity and studies have shown that children associate angry expressions with male faces.

But ‘female rage’ is powerful and a catalyst for change. It was the anger of Emmeline Pankhurst which organised the British suffragette movement, the movement that led to the women’s right to vote. It was the anger and discrimination that led Maya Angelou to write her award winning autobiography ‘I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings’ in 1970, which has since been integrated into the education system, influencing generations.

When a woman or a man is displaying anger, they are showing the world what is most important to them. The injustice though, is that women are condemned for their anger while men are praised. This begins early on, telling young girls that the boy pushing her in the playground just fancies her instead of letting her tell him to ‘pi** off’, pre-emptively keeping the peace. He can run wild and control the environment but she needs to keep her emotions close, constructing a particular male entitlement. When teaching our young girls deference, we are depriving them of a life of freedom. 

But the subtly lies in channelling this energy into positive action. Anger, when left alone, can consume you. My grandma has taught me everything there is to know about owning my feelings of fury. But it was reading ‘Why all women should be feminists’ by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie that opened my eyes to the systematic unfairness that I can no longer unsee. Not only do I now see patriarchy everywhere, I feel a responsibility as a citizen of the world to educate people. Anger has the potential to become an addiction, a fire that when held too long can start to burn. 

Can elections ever be the same again? Has democracy broken?

1789 saw Americas first presidential election take place. Only white men who owned property had the right to vote. Fast forward 230 years and we are now reaping the benefits of living an inclusive society. The right to vote is a human right no matter your race, sex or religion, reflecting the great lengths our society has come to be democratic. 

The events that were to take place in 2016 would threaten our democracy and throw uncertainty towards our nations more than ever. June 23rd2016 saw the British nation be divided by one of the most polarised decisions ever made by our country, Brexit. From this moment forward, people were identified simply as leavers or remainers. Not long to follow was the election of Donald Trump, the president of the United States. The latter event confirmed the social trends that were to dominate our society for the next few years; racism, hate and division. 

To the naked eye, these two events may seem unrelated. March 2018 revealed to us that in fact this wasn’t the case, the common player in both being ‘Cambridge Analytica’. What is Cambridge Analytica? ‘Cambridge Analytica Ltd (CA) was a British political consulting firm which combined data miningdata brokerage, and data analysis with strategic communication during the electoral processes.’ (Source: Wikipedia)

In 2016 CA was hired to work for Donald Trump’s presidential campaign as well as for LeaveEU, which was founded by Arron Banks. Arron Banks has close relations to Nigel Farage and generously donated to his political party UKIP. CA played a crucial part in both the American elections and in the Brexit Referendum, this is how they did it. 

There are 2.41 billion Facebook users in the world, 32.7m in the UK and 169.5m in the US. Facebook is the biggest social media network and is actively used by people on a daily basis. CA gathered detailed information through data traces left by users on Facebook, they claimed to have 5,000 data points on every single American Voter. Using this data, the company targeted users whose minds could be easily changed, or as they term it, the ‘persuadables’. They profiled people politically in order to better understand their individual fears and target them with Facebook ads and fake news. CA was to bombard individuals with ads and fake news that would result in a change of behaviour, with the end goal of making people see the world in their client’s favour. 

To illustrate here’s an example, I might have doubts about the future and quality of our education system. I would show this through a concentrated theme of liked pictures, profiles and various communications that I would have through Facebook. Knowing this level of detail about me allows CA to shoot their target. Hence if I were showed ads of an influx of people immigrating and putting extra pressure on our services than I would most likely vote leave, or vote Trump. 

The entire referendum took place on Facebook through physiological manipulation. No trail of the ads or the news is archived because only you, the individual, sees the information that is pushed through into your feed and then it vanishes. Hence, no audit on the quality or authenticity of the information can take place which makes it very difficult for an investigation to happen. In this essence, Facebook is untouchable. Only Facebook knows how many ads where sent through, how many people where targeted, which regions where targeted and how much money Facebook was paid for your personal information. Mark Zuckerberg refuses for the third time to speak to the committee which is investigating the effects that Facebook had on the referendum. 

Why are we so willingly giving our information away when the people who are supposed to be protecting it aren’t doing so? 

In Britain, we have a limit on the amount of money that is allowed to be spent on an election because it is illegal to ‘buy’ voters. At national level, a registered political party can spend £30,000 for each constituency that it contests at a general election. But social media has found a loop hole in these laws. Nobody will know how much money LeaveEU has spent on Facebook, Google and YouTube ads. 

Hate and fear is being spread across the internet as I type right now. There is a dark interconnection that is sewing us all together globally through social medias like Facebook. Our democracy is breaking and if we do not take control and understand the double edged sword that is the internet then you could be victim to this type of political manipulation. Our democracy is now highly dependent upon us reading our terms and conditions that we all so eagerly press agree to.

This was inspired by the documentary ‘The Great Hack’.

The beauty of Ramadan

Sometimes life can feel purposeless, as if we are just living to get by and not really feeling the moment or appreciating the life we have. Ramadan brings purpose, you wake up for Suhoor every morning and know what challenges and goals the day holds. You know that for the most part of the day you will be hungry, thirsty and probably have a migraine. And the temptations from society to listen to music or involve yourself with gossip will arise but despite this, you exercise determination. Oh and how can I forget the withdrawal symptoms from caffeine. The rewards though, are much greater. The feeling of accomplishment that you receive once you have completed a day of fasting, as you kneel down and pray to Allah and thank the Almighty for everything that, on a normal day you would have taken for granted is an unexplainable feeling of euphoria. No matter how religious a person is, Ramadan accepts all prayers and fasts that come from a person with pure intentions. And that’s the beauty of Islam.

What is Ramadan?

Ramadan is a holy month in which 1.8billions of Muslims all around the world dedicate to prayer, Quran recitation, self-analysis and fasting from dawn to sunset in the hope of self-purification. The Arabic word for fasting is ‘sawn’ which translates to ‘refrain’. Fasting for Muslims includes not only abstinence from food, drink but also having sex, gossip, swearing and all evil thoughts and deeds. In this holy month we break our daily fasts with an evening meal called ‘Iftar’ at sunset and open our fasts with ‘Suhoor’ just before sunrise.

Ramadan is not supposed to be a difficult period for Muslims so children, elderly, pregnant, post-natal, breastfeeding or menstruating women are exempt, as are travellers or people who are physically or mentally ill.

Ramadan is important because it is the month in which the Quran was revealed to the Prophet Muhammed (PBUH). In this month, the gates to heaven are believed to be open and the gates to hell to be closed.

What does Ramadan mean to you?

The interpretation of this blessed month is varied from person to person. To better understand what Ramadan means I asked a few people what Ramadan means to them. These are some responses:

“Ramadan is a month of sharing. Not just our food, but sharing our prayers, our humanity and our compassion with our family and people around the globe”

– Mo, aged 45

“Ramadan is about self-reflection. Looking deep within yourself and acknowledging that there are things that you need to change and improve to be a better person”

– Ayshe, aged 19

“Ramadan is a time where we break from 11 months of routine and patterns and embrace the love and hunger”

– Ibrahim, aged 25

“It’s a month that encourages us to increase our good deeds”

– Azem, aged 67

“Ramadan is the time when people are least judgemental. Despite your past actions you are welcomed to do good deeds”

– Hassan, aged 23

“A time where community is really important. People of all races are gathered for the sake of Allah. Having Iftar with strangers and having them call me brother is what Ramadan is all about”

– Yonis, aged 21

“Discipline. It allows me to reach parts of my inner-self that I could never do in an ordinary month”

– Fatima, aged 24

“Ramadan encompasses all of the characteristics and habits that we Muslims are supposed to convey on a daily basis and pushes us to become, strive and actively work towards becoming better human beings”

– Ikram, aged 21

“I look forward to Ramadan because of the serenity and the spiritually that comes with it”

– Idris, aged 17

“The sense of congregation and unison when you know millions of others are partaking in the same actions is an unexplainable feeling”

– Ali, aged 56

As Ramadan comes to a close for another year, I wish those who are celebrating, Eid Mubarak. For those that aren’t, I hope that this has inspired you to learn more about Islam.

‘Ramadan is like rain. It nourishes the seeds of good deeds’

People just want to be understood.

This post is inspired by an event that I witnessed on the London underground train. The event left me with an urge to perfect the art of listening for the people in my life. I wanted to share this to help others become better listeners and as a result develop better relationships.

It was an ordinary evening on my way home from work, the trains were packed and my top lip had developed a natural highlight from the sweat (sexy, I know). Somehow I managed to squeeze onto the train and started the natural process of untangling my headphones. This was the usual thing for me to do, listening to some soulful rap after a long day of work, numbing the pain of the rat race (oh and of course block out the other people).

As I was about to press play to some Tupac, I could hear some people arguing. This definitely wasn’t the norm. People in London, under no circumstances, talk to each other on the trains. Londoners have this agreement, we all understand that we have to stand within very close proximity of each other on the underground and yes, it is totally invading personal space. But, it is the price we pay to get home as fast as possible. 

So anyway, it became apparent that one particular man (we shall call him man A) was irritated at another (man B) because he had supposedly pushed him. Now my thought process was the following: this was something so trivial as it was rush hour and we were in central London, everybody is going to get pushed, it was inevitable. The incident escalated quickly and man A started shouting abuse at man B. Man B took this all in his stride and just remained calm. The situation continued and eventually the train stopped and both men were asked to get off by security. At this point, everybody was very angry at man A for making such a scene and delaying everybody’s journey. Man A refused to leave the train, insistent that he was the victim. 

A lady on the train then proceeded to shout at him to leave because everybody wanted to get home as fast as possible. It was his response that completely changed my thought process ‘at least you have a home to get to’ while pointing at the logo on his top. 

It was this moment where I realised that man A is a big issue man. For those of you who don’t know what the big issue is, it’s a foundation which offers people who are homeless the opportunity to earn their own money by selling the big issue magazine. 

I and so many others on that train were so preoccupied with our own thoughts and feelings that we had missed the point. Man A had probably spent all day selling those magazines outside in the cold and had probably not made much money at all. He might have not even known when his next meal was going to be. The likelihood of man A using the trains regularly is small because he probably cannot afford to, as a result he is not familiar with the conduct (the pushing and shoving which comes with rush hour). Whereas man B was, judging by his suit, and so he could handle himself much better in that type of situation. 

Me and the rest of the people on that carriage that evening had misunderstood the situation. I ask of you to think of similar experiences in your life, past or present, where you have misunderstood and judged without thinking from the other person’s perspective. The ability to think outside of the box will save you so many arguments and will make you a better communicator with your friends, family and even strangers. Everybody just wants to be understood, but nobody is willing to listen.

Be kind. For everyone you meet is fighting their own little battle, that you know nothing about.”

The five people you need.


When I was younger I used to associate happiness with buying a kinder egg surprise. The older I get the more blurred my definition of happiness becomes. 

Research has identified that relationships have the deepest impact on our level of happiness, more so than any other factor combined. This brings me onto my next point as said by Jim Rohn, you are the combination of the five people you are around the most. So, hang around with time wasters and a time waster you will become. 

In this current moment I cannot say that I have achieved my deepest desires, I definitely haven’t reached the peak of my life yet. That moment where you hear yourself say ‘Ah, I am proud of me, I did it’ has not reached me yet. But, picking what to study at university was a pretty big decision which was shaped by those five people around me. The five people you need around you to be the best version of yourself are: 

  1. Your cheerleader 
  2. Mentor
  3. Coach
  4. A friend 
  5. A peer 

cheerleader is someone who is going to believe in you even when you don’t believe in yourself. For many of us, this person is our mama. Yes, she is always there telling you that you can do it. But for me, during the decision process of whether to study Mathematics at university, my mum actually questioned whether it would be too hard for me. I remember her asking me if I think I could do it (side note: Hell yes I could do it, I am a boss, go me). 

Then we have the mentor. A mentor’s job is to point you in the right direction. Don’t get too caught up in whether the mentor is a formal or informal one. I can hear you all say ‘How on earth do I ask someone to mentor me?!’ You are looking for someone who has a willingness to share information and someone with the capacity to point you in the direction which you want to go in. You will know this person because they’ll have information for you to consume: books, podcasts etc. The trick is to pick one person who shares the same core values as you, it can get quite confusing when you look to too many people for this role. Your direction becomes confused and you find that you are being pointed in seven directions rather than the specific one that you want to follow. My mentor is Rosa Parks; she is someone who stood up for what she believed despite the social stance towards African Americans at that time. This inspired me to study Mathematics despite it being a subject that is traditionally studied by males, as they are believed to be ‘biologically more logical than females’.

It can be hard to reach your goal when you are taking the same actions over and over. This is where a coach comes into play. A coach is someone who is going to push you outside of your comfort zone so that you can maximise your full potential. This person can range from your manager at work to your school teacher. One of my goals last year was to improve my public speaking skills. As a result my manager suggested that I present to 80 people. This really pushed me outside of my comfort zone and helped me gain better insight into what it takes to be an engaging presenter.

Among all these people, you need a person who knows your truest heart’s desire. A person who recognises you, sometimes more than you recognise yourself. This person is a friend. No, not your 200 friends on Facebook or Instagram, this person is the one person who brings you back to reality. A friend is someone who asks “does this really make you happy?”. During the rollercoaster of achieving your goals, your friend will remind you of your values and bring you back in line with your morals (or at least that’s what they should be doing anyway, if they’re not then bin them). Oh and of course, a friend is always there for a good old gossip.

Last but not least, we need a peer. A peer is someone that is after a similar goal as you, a person who is in the same industry as you and knows the ins and outs of your daily job. The difference between a peer and a friend is that your friend doesn’t necessarily understand your work, so they cannot support you in that department. Your friend will simply ask ‘does this make you happy’ whereas a peer is a person who keeps your head in the game. I recommend that you select a peer who is better at the job than you are, this will motivate you to be on their level and also allows you to learn from them.

What is International Women’s Day?

International women’s day is a day that allows us to remember the young girls who have been shot on their way to school. A day to remember and grieve over the childhoods that are robbed from the innocent girls that are forced into underage marriages. A day to remember the single mothers all over the world who put their child first, despite all the daily struggles they may be going through with no help. A day to remember the girls who are deterred from studying stem subjects at school because they aren’t ‘feminine’ enough. A day to remember all the women who have suffered sexual and emotional abuse and are made to feel like it is their fault, or they have asked for it. A day to remember all the girls and women who are told ‘No’ just because they are a woman. 

It is a day for us to assess how far gender equality has come and acknowledge that this equality isn’t present in all parts of the world. Together, we can make equality happen, through education, arts and voice. 

Happy International Women’s day to all. May this inspire you to generate the change. 

The Silver Lining of War

I recall a vivid memory from my childhood.  What began as another customary afternoon in primary school, where our teacher had asked us to draw yet another spider diagram.  This one in particular was to include words and images that we thought encompassed and represented our identity. 

As is expected from children of eight years of age, I heard my peers present their ‘identities’ with various innocent childlike banalities including ‘Spiderman is my favourite superhero’ and ‘my shoe size is 3 and a half’ (the norm for a child aged 8). However, as I looked down apprehensively onto my diagram, the word I had written was ‘refugee’. 

Even at that age, I understood that fleeing a battle zone defined who I was as a person, or at least felt it effected how people looked at me. 

And when asked why I had written ‘refugee’ I remember defensively thinking, isn’t this what you were all expecting me to write anyway? 

What was strange was that in my own mind, I didn’t connote being a refugee with any feelings of negativity. I wasn’t ashamed, despite the media constantly bombarding us with negative and often misleading images related to refugees. It was just a fact. I understood that because of political instability in my home country, my family and I had to flee the only place we’d ever known, and that this made us different. 

We understood and saw pain that changed the way we saw the world and for this reason we could never be the same as everybody else. We stood out. 

WAR 

a state of armed conflict between different countries or different groups within a country. 

For educational purposes just a little background on the War in Kosova: 

  • 1912 – Serbia gains control of Kosova from the Turks (the Balkan Wars)
  • 1946 – Kosova is in the Yugoslav federation 
  • 1990 (July) – Communism began to collapse throughout Eastern Europe, the fate of what was Yugoslavia was uncertain. Ethnic Albanian leaders declare independence from Serbia. Belgrade dissolves the Kosovo government
  • 1990 (September) – Serbia begins to suppress Albanian language, radio, schools, sacks more than 100,000 ethnic Albanian workers and participation in public life in an attempt to deter Albanian nationalism in Kosovo. Albanians in Kosovo begin their own unofficial schools, governments and civil society
  • 1991 – Croatia and Slovenia declared independence from Yugoslavia. Serbs did not accept these declarations and attempted to violently suppress these attempts
  • 1992 – Ibrahim Rugova is elected as the first president of the partially recognised Republic of Kosova
  • 1996 – The Kosovan Liberation Army (KLA) forms. The KLA were an Albanian army that sought independence from Serbia 
  • 1998-99 – The KLA clashed with Serbian forces in attempt to separate Kosova permanently from Serbian control. Serbia attempted to crush the KLA and with the same tactics seen in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The tactics included the mass killings and torture of Albanians (Račak Massacre)

Immigrating to England has defined who I am. 

But on a serious note, upon reflection and for both the development of this blog post and my life, I am grateful. If we had not experienced conflict back home, the opportunity to come to England and build something much greater than we could have ever imaged would have never been possible. The Kosovan War is the war closest to my heart, but there are many wars that have, are, and will continue to take place undeterred by experiences such as my own. And for many children, just like me and my siblings, who have to flee to a safer country and build a new life. If not for these horrible experiences, we wouldn’t be who we are today.

There are some amazing talented people who have aided our society so greatly who also identify with the label, ‘refugee’. 

Just to mention a few of my favourite: 

Bob Marely – fled Jamaica to Miami after being shot during political violence

Rita Ora – fled Kosova 

Karl Marx –German refugee 

Anne Frank – fled from Nazi Germany to the Netherlands 

Prophet Muhammed (PBUH) – fled Mecca to Medina in 577 

We live in such an age where anything is possible, yet we have leaders amongst some of the most developed countries turning people in need down. No refugee leaves their country unless they have to. 

London is a home with no citizen specification, it is for any type of person, no matter your background, age, race, religion or sex. And for this I am proud to be a refugee living in London.

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