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Doctor turned community activist, Bilal Hassam, is the embodiment of what it means to be a British Muslim today. He stars in the British Muslim TV (BMTV) reality show Being Bilal, which gives viewers a glimpse of a day in the life of an ordinary Muslim.

Bilal is also Creative Director of BMTV. He describes the channel as a platform to explore what it means to be ‘confidently Muslim and comfortably British’. …


Aged 12, Gulwali Passarlay travelled 12,000 miles to safety in the UK and now offers a beacon of hope for other child refugees. He talks to Yee-Liu Williams.

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The last time Gulwali Passarlay saw his mother, she said: ‘Be safe, Gulwali. No matter how bad it gets, don’t ever come back’. As she sent Gulwali and his brother, Hazrat, off on the long journey from Afghanistan to Europe she urged them to ‘hold on to each other and stay together’.


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It was Drums No Guns (DNG) that led the Million Mom March along the National Mall in Washington, DC on that Mother’s Day in 2000, rallying the largest gun control demonstration in American history.

Looking back on that day, the co-founder of DNG, Ram Bhagat, recalls the beating of the drums and the ‘cries of the women who had lost their children’.

For him, the pain is personal. He will never forget the ‘primal scream’, when he told his mother that his brother, Lester, had died from a gunshot wound. ‘Our lives changed in an instant,’ he says. …


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When Bremley Lyngdoh attended the Vatican in October 2017, it was as a winner of the inaugural BridgeBuilder Challenge, inspired by Pope Francis’s challenge to youth leaders to build bridges. As an 18-year-old, dreaming of aviating the skies and exploring outer space, he joined the air cadets flying with the Delhi No 1 Air Squadron of the Indian Air Force. Now 44, his life has been more down to earth, but he still looks to the skies, using drones and planetary technology to ‘heal the soil for the farmers on earth’.

The BridgeBuilder Challenge awards $1 million a year in prize money for ideas with global impact. Bremley’s proposal to use tree-planting drones to restore mangrove forests and protect livelihoods in Myanmar won a grant of $250K. The bid was a strategic partnership between Worldview Impact Foundation (WIF) in London and BioCarbon Engineering (BCE) based in Oxford. Bremley and Dr Irina Fedorenko, of BioCarbon Engineering, are part of a team organizing the Caux Dialogue on Land and Security at the Caux Forum 2019. …


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Jorge Otalecu, 23, stretches out his hand to help fellow crew member, Álvaro Ramos, aboard the Aldebaran. The two sportsmen from Marbella, Spain, are hoping to make history this August as part of a special crew of mixed disabilities competing in the prestigious Copa del Rey de Vela international sailing race. ‘It is an opportunity to open doors as they will compete on equal terms with the rest of the racing field,’ says Jorge’s father, Alex Otalecu.

Everyday tasks might be a struggle for Jorge but when it comes to swimming, surfing, sailing, skiing, cycling he is unstoppable, beams his mother, Maite Caño. Jorge has an intellectual disability (ID), the most common, and most often overlooked, developmental disability. The term is used when a person has limitations in cognitive functioning and such life skills as communication, social relations and self-care. …


Samiya Lerew talks to Yee-Liu Williams about the challenges facing British-Somali families, FGM, and graduating on the same day as her son.

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Samiya Lerew

‘Parents are not in touch with the younger generation and families are growing apart,’ laments Samiya Lerew. She says that Somali-British suffer from a torn identity. First generation emigrants are scattered in ‘little bubbles of Somalia’ across the world, with their umbilical cord to home ruptured.

Samiya describes herself as ‘a product of colonisation’. Her grandfather was a politician, when Somalia and Eritrea were under Italian rule. Her mother was a Somali celebrity, a singer and broadcaster with Radio Mogadishu, and her father an Eritrean lawyer. ‘I am a beizani (a townie),’ she says. In her childhood, Mogadishu was a peaceful, multicultural, thriving hub. …


Tsegga Medhin Seyoum is passionate about empowering girls through science and technology. She talks with Yee-Liu Williams.

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Tsegga Medhin Seyoum places a pair of pearl earrings in the palm of my hand. ‘Being valuable is one of the most important elements in humanity,’ she says. Like a pearl ‘we all go through the various impurities in life’ and at some point ‘emerge transformed and valuable’.

Tsegga is the founder of the Pearl Leadership Institute (TPLI), based in North Carolina, which educates and mentors girls in STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Maths) careers. ‘When girls can serve themselves better, they can better serve their communities.’ Each year, the institute sponsors three summer camps for 60 girls from marginalised communities. …


Josephine Apira knows the pain of northern Uganda first hand. She talks to Amanda Clements and Yee-Liu Williams.

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Josephine Apira, an Acholi woman from northern Uganda, has been living in the UK since 1991 — but her passion for just governance in her homeland is her driving force. In 1986, it was her voice, as a refugee in Juba, South Sudan, which alerted the UN refugee agency, UNHCR, to what was going on in the villages of northern Uganda, where the army was looting, destroying crops and attacking civilians. …


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Abdool Kadir Gooljar

Abdool Kadir Gooljar dedicates his life to feeding and supporting destitute families torn apart by war and disaster. He talks to Yee-Liu Williams.

‘I want to go out there and give them food, give them water, give them hope,’ exclaims Abdool Kadir Gooljar, the Sheffield-based founder of Families Relief. His eyes shimmer with anguish. He is the keeper of so many stories of pain from around the world. ‘Nobody is talking about the real pain of refugees. Not even me, as it is not possible.’

He set up the charity in 1989, to support families whose relatives had been imprisoned in Tunisia. The charity supports thousands of destitute families with food parcels, emergency and water aid, and through special projects like school uniforms, equipment, meals and education development. It now works in Europe, Africa, Asia and the Middle East as well as in the UK. …


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Sehadet Ekmen addressing a group of Syrian children in Humus orphanage on Turkish/Syrian border in Hatay region

Sehadet Ekmen has an unusual approach to helping refugees deal with the trauma of war. Yee-Liu Williams finds out more.

It is 5am, a Tuesday and a bleary-eyed Sehadet Ekmen is catching her weekly flight from Istanbul to Ankara, where she is doing a Masters in Peace and Conflict Studies to add to her Masters in Cognitive and Clinical Neuroscience from Goldsmith’s, London.

The 30-year-old neuropsychologist established the Psychology Education and Negotiation (PEN) Academy in Istanbul, to offer family therapy and counselling to children and young people. She is also the champion of an unlikely source of therapy: hand cream massage. She is trialling this with Syrian women and children in the refugee camps near the Turkish border and says that the power of touch has been transformative. …

About

Yee-Liu Williams

Storyteller, creative communicator and content producer. Impact storytelling sharing digital stories across the globe.

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