“When I needed help, there were people to help me.”
Rawasia’s school in Syria was bombed. Now she’s studying at school in Liverpool. She told us all about how the people in Liverpool have helped her, and about her big plans for the future.
In Syria my school was bombed and two of my friends were killed. After that, my mum said we had to leave for our safety and we went to Iraq.
It was a big change. Everything was different. We were living in the Kurdish part of Iraq. The language was different, the culture was different – different festivals, different clothes.
The Arabic-language schools there were private and we had to pay a lot of money to attend. We also had to pay to take buses to the school because it was far away. When I reached Year 9, we couldn’t afford it anymore. My mum was working so hard, but it was too expensive.
Having to leave school made me feel really bad about myself. I couldn’t study at home as I couldn’t afford the school curriculum books. To amuse myself and keep my brain occupied, I wrote stories about princesses and fairy tales and worked on my art.
Moving to the UK
When my mum told me that the UN had called to say we had been accepted on a resettlement programme to the UK, I couldn’t sleep for three days. I was just so happy and excited! In my mind, the UK is the best country in the world. I was imagining what my life would be like here and what future I would have. I was excited about going back to school. But most of all, I knew it would be a safe place. Finally, we would be safe.
The day we arrived in the UK we were so hungry and so tired. We met the Community Sponsorship group at the airport and they took us to our new home in Liverpool. When we arrived, I saw the food on the table ready for us. When I saw that it was Arabic food, I really didn’t know how I could say thank you to them for something like that.
“In the UK, I feel like I am in my country. I feel like I belong.”
Settling in to life in Liverpool
I’ve been in Liverpool for two years now and it’s been really good. The first month was challenging because of the language barrier. I had to really motivate myself, so that my English would improve quickly. When I started school, I would note down a few words in every class to learn. At the end of the week I would revise all the words and make sentences with them. My teachers also really helped me a lot. Whenever I needed help or I didn’t understand an English word that was used, they explained it, wrote it on the board, and talked to me about that word.
After the first month, it got a lot easier. All the people have been so friendly. The Community Sponsorship group members were always such a positive energy in the house. They helped us stay positive and always brought out the best in us, even when we felt sad. After everything that’s happened, they’ve made me stronger.
When we came to the UK, I didn’t have a father anymore. The Community Sponsorship group made me feel like they were giving me the father figure I had missed. They were our friends, our family, father, grandma, grandpa. They’ve been everything here.
I’ve made friends at school who I speak to every day. One of them, we became best friends after only knowing each other for one month. In the UK, I feel like I am in my country. I feel like I belong.
Looking to the future
I’m in year 10 now so I’ll be preparing for my GCSE exams soon. At first the thought of GCSE exams made me feel scared, but then I realised it’s not too scary. I just have to make sure I study extra hours after school and then I’ll be fine.
I need to do well in my GCSEs so that I can become a surgeon… or a pilot! I’m about 80% sure I want to be a surgeon. The other 20% of me wants to be a pilot, but I think I’ll decide to be a surgeon in the end. I want to study at Liverpool, Oxford or Cambridge. I like Liverpool the best because I like the accent here.
To the people who have helped me, the Community Sponsorship group, I want to say thank you. Thank you from my heart.
I decided to start volunteering in Liverpool because when I needed help, there were people to help me. I feel like it’s my turn now to help others who are in need. I’m volunteering in a charity shop and a youth club with young children.
Yuliia Matalinets came to the UK under the Homes for Ukraine scheme and is staying with hosts in Bristol. Here she outlines what a traditional Ukrainian Christmas looks like, and we think it sounds magical!
Renting your property to a refugee family through Community Sponsorship is one of the most significant ways in which you can contribute to resettlement. Here Jo tells us why she would encourage other landlords to do the same and answers some your key questions.