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Women’s Experiences: Bringing Communities Together

Written by Jaspreet Singh – Volunteer at ACAA

On November 21st, 2017, volunteers at the Afghanistan and Central Asian Association came together to hold a Women’s Conference at the Hounslow Art Centre, in Hounslow.

The purpose of the Women’s Conference was for members of the public to come together to celebrate the success of many women refugees who came to the UK seeking a better life.

The event began with a few words spoken by the director of the ACAA, Dr. Nasimi, and was chaired by Rabia Nasimi. A dance performance then followed from Ziba Trabizi, which showcased the vibrant culture of Afghanistan and Central Asia. Following the performance, various speakers were invited on to the stage to speak about their work, as well as their experiences working with refugees. The first to speak was Najiba Kasaraee, a well known Afghan presenter for BBC Afghan’s Pashto, and editor for the BBC Academy. The second to speak was Safia Barikzai, an associate professor at South Bank University, and a regular contributor to a number of organizations that promote refugee empowerment and community integration. Fariha Bhatti was the third speaker, a trustee of the Refugees in Effective and Active Partnership, and head of the Positive about Disability organization. Next was Romy Wakil, who spoke an artistic piece, and is a qualified Psychodynamic Therapist, having worked with female survivors of domestic abuse, violence, and asylum seekers. The last speaker was Thavarani Nagulendram, who runs the Tamil Community Centre and has provided services to Tamil immigrants for a number of years.

After the speakers was another dance performance by Ziba Trabizi, which also involved some of the young girls who attended the conference joining her on stage for a traditional dance. The evening also had Sgt. Turtle, a faith officer from the Hounslow Police, as well as DSI Chaudhri to attend and speak at the event about the roles the police take on when interacting with ethnic communities.

The ACAA was also honored to have the Deputy Mayor make an appearance and speak briefly to the audience. The night ended with a special guest appearance by Baroness Sally Hamwee, who spoke about the representation in Parliament of individuals who are advocating for the rights of refugees. Following the Baroness, the volunteers and Rabia drew a raffle for prizes that had been organized by the volunteers, which included books, an exercise machine, and various beauty products.

Following the event, attendees, as well as speakers joined together for food and a chance to network with each other.

Overall, the event was very successful and properly showcased not only the culture and traditions of Afghanistan and Central Asia, but also showcased different areas of work concerning refugee aid. The volunteers were constantly working before and throughout the event in order to make it successful. Charlie, who was one of the volunteers that helped organize the event had this to say about the event:

“It was a privilege to hear from so many influential women, I left the event feeling inspired and optimistic that we can achieve real positive change.”

There were also a few attendees who believed that the event was very inspiring and helped to bridge the gap between organizations, services for refugee aid, and the general public.

“The event was very inspiring, and it was wonderful to see so many speakers from different backgrounds speak about what they are passionate about and what it means to go into refugee work.”

“Loved the event! It was very nice to see not only refugee work being celebrated through different disciplines, but specifically women who have defied all odds to make a difference in this world in their own ways.”

Thank you to all who attended the event at the Arts Centre, as well as to the speakers, Baronness Hamwee, and to the Deputy Mayor. A special thank you goes out to the volunteers of the ACAA who ensured that this event would be successful, we couldn’t have done it without you!

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