Amer came to the UK as a refugee from Syria in 2018, he now works for The Bike Project which provides vital support in the form of second hand bicycles for refugees and asylum seekers. A bike helps people who have very little money for public transport to access food banks, legal advice, healthcare and education.
Name: Amer Raawan
Occupation/Job: Programmes Coordinator at The Bike Project
Moved to the UK in 2018
Nominated by: Witness Change
What does community mean to you?
A community is a safe net that pushes me to be the best I can. I share similar visions, values and ambitions with my community. We are not reliant on each other, but we support each other unconditionally and we create this safe space for each other.
Is there one thing that you’re really proud of that you have done to make your community a better place for people?
I have always wanted to support fellow refugees and asylum seekers, in addition to religious and sexual minorities. Throughout my volunteering with Witness Change, I had the chance to take pictures of and interview many refugees and asylum seekers from all over the world and learn about their stories. I’m so happy that I’ve been able to convey their stories to the world and find the positive aspects in every story. It is important to make the voice of our community heard.
When did you first feel at home in your community – how did that happen? Was it a certain person or point in your life?
It’s funny how the word ‘home’ can mean so many things and can be felt in so many ways. I feel at home when I visit a Syrian shop, meet up with my Syrian friends and cook Syrian food. It can sometimes be a hot summer day or arguing over the bill.
However, I also feel at home when I do the things that I couldn’t do in my home country. Home is where I and other members of my community can express ourselves freely without the fear of being persecuted or heavily criticized. Home is also where I feel welcome and appreciated.
After almost a year of looking for a full-time job in the UK, I finally got a job with the Bike Project around 6 months ago. In spite of the fact that I am skilled and educated, I didn’t have any UK-based experience which made it hard for me. Working for the Bike Project has made me feel I’m part of a family that appreciates me and my background. Through them, I’ve been able to help other members of my community, and none of them has ever made me feel an outsider.
What made YOU want to be an ambassador for IMD?
It is very challenging for other refugees or immigrants to live in a foreign country, and with the rise in far right, we can all see the lies that politicians try to spread about refugees and asylum seekers. I believe it is time we changed the negative narratives and participated in telling our stories and fighting for our rights. I want to speak for myself and for others who can’t speak for themselves.