Sarah came to the UK from Afghanistan almost 20 years ago – she had a successful career in the media and was also the Chair of the Afghan Women’s Education Centre and Chief Editor of a magazine called Women, but Taliban rule meant it wasn’t safe for her to stay. She now lives and works in Sunderland for the North East Business Innovation Centre and supports refugees to set up their own businesses.
Name: Sarah Ahmadi
Nationality: British Afghan
Occupation/Job: AMIF Project Manager North East Business Innovation Centre
Moved to the UK in 2002
Nominated by: IMIX
What does community mean to you?
To me, community means a place where we feel at home. A safe and secure environment where we are given an opportunity to socialise, better our lives and reach our full potential. Knowing that you are valued and a necessary part of a wider community allows people to have a sense of belonging. A community does not always have to be the one you grew up in, it can be one you came into and became a part of. A home away from home.
Is there one thing you’re really proud of that you have done to make your community a better place for people?
Since arriving in the UK, I have spent the last 20 years working towards bettering the community. As the chairperson of Afghan British association, I spent many years in improving the lives of others through projects and activities benefitting the BME community as well as the local community.
I went onto become co-ordinator of United Community Action, and our sole purpose was to integrate and improve the quality of life of all those in the community. As a foreigner myself, I was determined to build a strong community, where not only I could belong but also let others integrate, who have struggled in building their lives in the UK. The projects I have co-ordinated over the years have all had one objective. This is to make the community a better place for people. Through the various community-based projects, language courses, IT courses and group activity-based projects, I am proud to say today the community is stronger, larger and more accomplished than ever before.
When did you first feel at home in your community?
After arriving in the UK, I dealt with many struggles and it was difficult to see a future for myself here in the UK. However, once I began working with the community through the Afghan British Association, United Community Action, and then the North East Business Innovation Centre, I saw how much our service was needed and through this I felt like I was valued within the community. This gave me a sense of belonging and made me feel at home, a place where I was appreciated and wanted. During this point in my life, I was also studying at university to better myself and further my education and qualifications. Combined with working with the community, I felt it was a life changing moment for me as I discovered within myself a strength and desire to do all I can to not let others go through the same struggles I had when I had first come to the UK.
What made YOU want to be an ambassador for IMD?
I wanted to become an ambassador for IMD as I believe working in partnership with other organisations is a great opportunity and learning experience. Helping each other achieve more and reaching a wider range of people as well as coming together to provide better service to the community. Knowing the value IMD brings and the positive outcome of the celebration, I feel I would be a great asset as an ambassador and together we can reach a wider variety of people and make a bigger difference through our services.