DMU student shares her experience as a refugee during visit to UN HQ

A De Montfort University Leicester (DMU) student has spoken about her incredible journey as a refugee from Somalia to the United Nations Headquarters in New York, where she represented DMU at a summit to launch the university’s involvement in the Together campaign to help refugees.

ZamZam Yusuf fled war-torn Somalia at the age of just ten to go to Sweden, she then sought asylum in the UK and lived in London and Scotland before eventually settling in Leicester.

Following the summit in New York, which was attended by hundreds of students from DMU, the first year Youth Work and Community Development student spoke to UN Radio to share her experience and encourage greater tolerance for refugees around the world.

ZamZam candidly detailed some of the horrific challenges she has been forced to overcome but spoke of her happiness to now be attending DMU and living in Leicester with a family of her own.

She also explained how support from DMU has helped her to raise awareness about her sister, who was being held captive in Libya for two years and was only freed by being airlifted out of the country by the Italian government at the end of 2017.

The Together campaign aims to offer worldwide support to refugees and DMU has been asked by the UN to take the lead in engaging the higher education sector worldwide.

When asked what she thought should be done to help refugees, ZamZam said: “We need to create that awareness and tolerance, treating refugees as human beings with the dignity and respect that they deserve.

“At the end of the day we all bleed the same, regardless of where we come from, and I think it’s important that we empathise and we put ourselves in other people’s shoes to understand what they’ve gone through.”

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ZamZam also said she is inspired by the empowering work being done in the community by DMU and now wants to give something back to people who need support. She finished the interview with a powerful message of how a small change in attitude can make a massive difference:

“Get to know your neighbours. Don’t judge. Don’t just assume they are what the news is saying. I’ve had people coming up to me and saying I don’t belong here, and I just look at them and say ‘I’d like to offer you a cup of tea if you come to my house and I’ll explain to you that I’m not that kind of person.’”

To listen to the full interview click here.

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Posted on: Wednesday 17 January 2018

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