Bridging Barriers and Empowering the Vulnerable
Written by Diana Barnieh, Volunteer at the ACAA Today was…
Written by Diana Barnieh, Volunteer at the ACAA
Today was my first day as a Women’s Project Volunteer at the ACAA, where I will be providing support to women, by helping out in English language classes, workshops and as a mentor. First, I met Manha, the leader of the Women’s project, who has been a reliable and motivational coach for the women for over a year. Our first role was to assist women who had come along to learn English. I was placed in the beginner’s class. We introduced ourselves and had a conversation before the session began. One of the students there, named Darya, told me about her recent battle to pass her theory driving test. When she had not passed the first three times, she said, she wanted to give up. Even her husband had also told her to give up and forget it, but she was too determined to admit defeat.
“It does not matter how slowly you go as long as you do not stop” – Confucius
At the fourth test, she managed to pass! As she talked about persistence and not giving up, I was very inspired. Darya is a role model for all of us, as we should be persistent in achieving what feels unattainable. I really enjoyed listening to her story and witnessing how people choose to persevere in the face of setbacks.
After having a chance for introductions, we started the English lesson. First, we mainly went through the alphabet, phonics and pronouncing sounds. It was great seeing them really determined to learn and I felt very motivated to help them achieve their goals. After the class had finished, at three, we had a workshop. One of the students, Barkhado from Somalia, was giving a presentation titled ‘The Relationship Between Confidence and Inner Beauty’. She started off talking about what confidence means and what shyness looks like. She encouraged the audience not to give up when pursuing something they want. It was obvious that there was a lot of engagement from everyone in the room. Barkhado asked us about pursuing what we want and the response of the room was everyone cheering, ‘yes I can’! She told us that no one can make us see ourselves as ‘beautiful’, and that it only lies within ourselves. This means we should not wait for others to tell us we are beautiful. Confidence lies within inner beauty. It isn’t about what you wear, but how you feel inside, and how that shines in your outer reflection, to yourself and others around you.
‘Everyone is beautiful’ – Barkhado
She went on to say that many people in our lives may try to attack us or put us down, but they are doing it to feel better about themselves and feel more ‘confident’ themselves. The audience was reacting positively – everyone was nodding to what she was saying. Barkhado seemed like a role model to all the women as she seemed to have plenty of self assurance and inner-confidence. She shined in front of the class, maintaining eye contact throughout the presentation by speaking loudly and clearly.
At the end of the presentation, Mahna called over Barkhado to give her opinion about the talk. Barkhado told us her presentation was in inspiration of a past experience she now feels that she’s more able to overcome barriers, since coming to ACAA. Barkhado expressed pride in her presentation and general progression and hoped it will spark some inspiration to the women around her. She wants to continue improving her English so that one day, in the near future she will go to university.
So as my first day drew to a close, I realised that I had already learnt from these women. From their experience and determination, and what can be done when we fight for ourselves, and grasp every opportunity.
*All names used here are fake